I grew up on the Texas coast, only a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico. I was never afraid of hurricanes when I was a boy. To me, all a hurricane meant was days out of school swimming in the streets. I was too young to know I wasn’t immortal. I was only a baby when Carla flattened and swamped most of my home county, and the storms of my boyhood were all Category 1.
All of that changed with Katrina, even if I was slow on the uptake. Katrina devastated New Orleans, most of Louisiana, and parts of East Texas. Ike followed behind Katrina and trashed much of what Katrina had left standing in East Texas and Western Louisiana. Last year, Sandy ravaged the East Coast, and now we have Harvey.
I keep hearing people on the news say that Harvey is a once in a thousand year storm, and I can believe it. It’s hard to wrap your head around the scope of the destruction Harvey left in his wake. We’re talking about hundreds of square miles, maybe a thousand communities, and millions of lives affected. And he’s not finished. As I write this, Harvey is sitting in the Gulf, recharging his batteries, and getting ready to pummel Texas and Louisiana again.
I know many of our Congresspeople from Texas were idiots when it came to Katrina and Sandy relief. They argued that the money wasn’t actually going to relief, even though it was. They argued that the spending had to be offset in the federal budget. They argued from a premise of, “it’s not my problem that those people were affected.” Now their chickens have come home to roost. They were wrong then, and those who make the same arguments about Harvey relief will be wrong now.
I can only pray that the Congresspeople from the rest of the country will have bigger hearts and engage in less demagoguery than Mr. Cruz and his ilk.
The thing is natural disasters like Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey are not politic issues; they’re human tragedies. They don’t care if you’re a conservative, a moderate, or a liberal. They don’t care which political party you belong to. I hope our representatives can do the right thing for the people whose lives have been demolished.
Yes, I have friends and family all over the state whom Harvey has directly affected, including a nephew who was missing for several days. And Harvey is currently pummeling my home town after thrashing several of the towns in which I’ve lived. That may have a lot to do with why I feel so strongly; I’m only human.
So What Can We Do?
First, write your Congressperson and ask them to fully fund FEMA and the relief effort.
Second, open your own wallet. The news is full of stories of individual heroism and volunteers from organizations like the Cajun Navy who are going out of their way to help rescue folks. Members of my church community are starting fundraisers and asking others to open their homes to the refugees. Sue Ann’s workplace, Planview, matched funds and raised $12,000 in one day. That’s all good. But think of this: when you give a refugee family $20 for gas, you probably help one family. When you donate $20 to an organization like the Red Cross, you help fund a shelter for hundreds or thousands of people.
I’m asking you to join me in contributing to the relief effort. Make a contribution to an organization like Americares, The American Red Cross, or one of the countless other charities that can leverage your contribution to do the most good for the most people. For my part, I’m cutting a check to Rotary International’s hurricane relief fund for $1,000 today, and I’m pledging 100% of my family’s profits from real estate operations for the rest of the year to the relief effort.
I’d also like to hear your stories of helping out or being helped.
One more thing. In the last ten years, Texas has experienced at least seven 100-year weather events, one 500-year event, and one 1,000-year event. Climate scientists can’t say any of these events is directly attributable to climate change (AKA global warming), but the climate models predict an increase in the frequency and severity of climate events. Just sayin’.