44 hours is all they had. 44 hours to prepare for a devastation nobody could have ever even imagined. Just 44 hours. It takes me longer than that to prepare for a weekend trip to Houston to visit family on a normal, clear day… and yet people expected a city… no… the ENTIRE coast of Texas to pack up and go… where? in less than 44 hours. Those people must have never been through a natural disaster, because it’s REALLY easy to say what someone should have done without factoring in that human element. Weighing the pros and cons.
Is it worth leaving with all my small children and being on the road how long? How many potty breaks and snacks to pack? Will we even have that opportunity? It’s only a tropical storm! I have pets. My house is not in a flood zone. I can’t afford it! Surely it’ll fall apart, drop down to a tropical storm again, move along… I mean there might be some flooding… it can’t get THAT bad now that it’s on land.
Nobody wanted to be so wrong about that. I promise you.
We have truly embraced Louisiana in the last 5 years. We have made it our second home. This is where we bought our first house. It’s where my babies were born and where they will (at least) start school. We have made some incredible friends and even more beautiful memories. I have learned so much about myself and grown so much.
But Houston is where I met my husband. It’s where I grew up, where I went to college, where I met my very best friends. It’s where I had my first kiss and my first heartbreak. It’s where you can find some of the best food EVER and where every street offers a different style of life. There’s Montrose, The Woodlands, North Shore, Pearland, Spring, Missouri City, Sugar Land, Richmond, Baytown… the list goes on… and SO many different cultures in all of those. And not ONE of those areas were unaffected, but also not ONE of those areas held ONE person who didn’t do something to help.
Since we moved to Louisiana, we have seen our share of tragedy. But the thing we noticed is the community that comes together. No matter what, people reached out to help in any way whether they were dealing with their own issues or not… and it’s a beautiful thing. We notice in those times of strife, the sun always peeks through the clouds and makes that rainbow… and I’m just inspired by the rainbows all over Houston. Lafayette is a much smaller town, one can say it’s a bit easier for community to be strong that way… but you look at this huge city and see the same outreach. You see people coming from everywhere to volunteer without complaint. And I sat here, watching it all, desperately trying to contact all of my loved ones to know they’re all safe and equally filled with admiration by them all… it’s just beyond what words can say.
And just for a few days at least, we saw no race war. We saw no political rants. There was no division in the way people helped and rescued one another… and that’s what is the most amazing thing. Harvey is only one of the things that has tried to divide us as a country/state/city. But the thing people really held onto is the faith in humanity. The idea that maybe this will make us pull our heads out of our asses and truly SEE each other, and not only see skin color, or religion, political ideas or where each other grew up, or how easy someone else seemed to have it. Because when it all boils down… none of that truly matters. We are all human and nobody, deep down, wants to see with their own eyes, someone lose all hope, or their lives. It’s very easy to sit behind our tablets, phones, computers and pass judgment. To insist what we feel is the most logical or obvious. But what we don’t like to acknowledge is the idea that we all come from different walks of life, and THAT’S what makes us interesting. Our different experiences is what forms our unique opinions, which is OK… but this is one experience so many shared and experienced the exact same way. The same fears. Same sense of panic and worry.
That disgusting water came in and washed away the pride and the closed minds and forced people to let down their guards. It did not discriminate. It did not pick and choose whose lives to destroy. It did not ignore the woman who needed to get to a hospital to deliver her baby, only to have to do it alone in her home while the storm raged around her. It did not stop short of my friend that just moved back to Houston a month ago with her husband and 2 children under the age of 3 or the man walking along the empty freeway with his child and only a backpack with a few personal belongings because the water had claimed the streets below. This was one thing that brought everyone back down, humbling them in the most horrific way possible.
Houston – you are an amazing city, full of amazing people. I hope you never forget that and thank you for reminding each other, and me, to open our hearts and just be kind to one another.