Four Things I Learned From Hurricane Harvey

Trying times revealed the best of us.

Hurricane Harvey is undoubtedly one of the worst natural disasters to ever affect the United States. It dumped a record 51-plus inches of water on Texas in just a few short days, leaving over 100,000 homes damaged or destroyed. The aftermath is simply unfathomable.

As we end a grueling first week of recovery here in Houston (if you’re a Texan, you’ve probably lost track of time), I look at the piles of ruined belongings that line the city’s streets and want to find something good. But it’s hard. Given the level of devastation, it’s really, really hard.

Still, there are reasons to smile again. And here are four of them—“good” things I learned from Hurricane Harvey:

1. Our local government rocks. Just when we’re fed up with government in general… hats off to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and our other local government officials. They kept the fourth largest city in America—that was at one time almost entirely underwater—up and running in the most unimaginable of circumstances. I challenge anyone to plan for something like this, to stand before the nation on TV and defend the decision not to evacuate 6 million people when the threat of excessive rainfall was so widespread. It was a losing battle either way, like trying to pilot a flight that was doomed from the beginning. I believe that our local officials saved lives with their smart, difficult, and sometimes unpopular decisions. Their reassuring response to unprecedented disaster and the city’s calm, efficient recovery efforts have been amazing. We should thank our local officials and have complete confidence in the future of our city.

2. You’re never alone in times of need. For goodness sake, when push comes to shove, the Cajun Navy has your back. Rednecks with bass boats and huge trucks everywhere come out of the woodwork to show up for you. Blackhawk helicopters will hunt you down (in a good way). Like it or not, friends and complete strangers will plant themselves on your doorstep with food and supplies. You’re not alone, folks. Not in the good ol’ US of A. And especially not in Texas.

3. We’re all valuable. On an average day, when you’re feeling completely worthless… remember that you’re not. Harvey has surely reminded us of this. Every person has something to contribute. Some have the ability to knock out sheetrock and pull up wood floors in mucky, flooded houses. Some buy supplies and deliver them. Some cook and feed everyone. Some direct traffic at supply centers. Others render health care at shelters. Or pray. Or hand out gift cards to devastated families. And some can even maneuver some of the most harrowing rescues we’ve ever witnessed. We’re all valuable. Way to work together to demonstrate this, Houston.

4. The spirit of humanity is powerful. Finally, in a nation divided, Houston showed America how to be great again. We pushed the bad stuff to the back of the line. The focus on statues and hatred and violent protests has been usurped by jaw-dropping pictures of rooftop helicopter rescues and an outpouring of love from a caring community. From the unbelievable amounts of money being raised to the willingness of Mattress Mack to open his doors to thousands of evacuees to the formation of a human chain to help a woman in labor, it’s been encouraging to watch. The true spirit of humanity is breathtaking. Too bad it took a disaster to experience it.

Yes, Harvey taught us a lot. And at the end of the day, Texas should be very, very proud. I can smile a little bigger when I tell someone that I live in this great state. God bless all of the victims of this terrible storm, as well as those who have given so much to assist in the relief efforts. We will continue to support each other. #HoustonStrong #TexasStrong