Hurricane Harvey was, and still is, absolutely terrible. I’d like to leave the politics and economics of the storm aside, and just focus on the enormous toll that Harvey took on people like you and I — and more importantly, what we can do to help.
My wife is from Houston, I lived there until 2013, and my in-laws still live there. My 3-year-old son spends a couple months a year there. For all its chaos, H-town is a city we love, filled with people we love. We still turn on Drake’s “November 18th” when we want to chill and talk about fond memories (if you don’t know about “November 18th”… now you know).
Last weekend was terrifying. Let me be clear: My family and I did not suffer, and I don’t want to make it seem like we did. We live in Austin, but so many of our loved ones live in Houston, and this is based on their experience, not ours.
People we know personally were trapped in houses rapidly filling with water — and 911 was out service. We know people who had to put sheets out of their windows to be rescued because water was too high for rescuers to see the street signs. We know people who lost everything, and we also know people who didn’t have flood insurance.
Even the lucky ones are in an incredibly tough spot.
My father-in-law was stuck in his house for many long hours because of rising waters, unable to evacuate and unsure if water was going to enter the house. Even though his house didn’t flood, his car repair business is still stuck because it can’t order the parts it needs. Many other businesses in the area cannot operate for similar reasons. How are they supposed to live without an income?
And it gets worse. My mother-in-law’s best friend lives near Addicks Reservoir, which had to be intentionally drained so that it didn’t overflow. The drainage flooded over 10,000 houses and damaged about 20,000 more. She has already been told she won’t be allowed back into her house until at least September 20, and 10,000 other families are living the same reality. Can you imagine? Next Tuesday and the end of Labor Day seem far away… I can’t imagine having to go that long knowing that complete and utter devastation await (houses rot when filled with water for extended periods).
Furthermore, just a little east of Houston, the mayor of Port Arthur, Texas tweeted Wednesday, “Our whole town is still underwater.” It’s neighbor, Beaumont, Texas is also largely underwater and has no clean water as a result. With the city’s two pumps beneath the surface, officials have no idea when the problem will be fixed.
I can’t imagine living in fear that we’ll run out of clean water.
I’d also like to pay respect to the many people who lost their lives during the storm. The loss of human life due to weather is heartbreaking, and it feels so wrong. The Mahogany Workplace’s wishes and prayers go out to their family and friends.
Houstonians and their neighbors face years of recovery, and they need a lot of help. So how can we come to their aid? There are some creative ways to get involved, especially if you live nearby. For example, my wife and I are hosting a get- together with friends tomorrow night to put together provisions for evacuees who came to Austin fleeing the storm.
If you live further away, I think we should do something special together. If we each give $10, then who knows how much we could raise… $50,000? $75,000? Then we can invest that money into real people and help them change the trajectory of their stories. Depending on how much we raise, we’ll either donate the proceeds toward food and supplies for those affected or we’ll help a needy family rebuild their home.
Join us at www.youcaring.com/kindnessfitsall and help these strong people move forward. Anything is possible when we come together.
By Riley Fuller with Ben Higgins