Always, there are pictures that capture the spirit of survival and of suffering in a natural disaster. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, it didn’t take long for one picture to “go viral.” It was a of nursing home in Dickinson, Texas, where residents were up to their waists and above in water. A rescue came.
But that photograph, heartbreaking and breathtaking, seemed to capture the incredible dangers of a hurricane and tropical storm and the lingering rains that have brought more than two feet of water (and rising in some places) to areas in and around Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast.
This was a nightmare for the ages.
Story after story broke hearts all over America. As the waters rose in Houston, a city of 2.3 million, and in the seemingly innumerable towns around that city and out in the countryside, people first stacked their most precious possessions, their photographs, their small family heirlooms, their children’s trophies and diplomas, on tabletops. And then on the chairs put on top of the tabletops. And then in the boats that came to get them.
But still, heartbreak was everywhere, and for all to see. Entire families walking through water in the middle of streets where they used to drive. Then they couldn’t even do that anymore as cars became submerged. So they left, by the many thousands, left their homes and most everything behind.
And now they’ll try to rebuild, literally from scratch. It made more fortunate Americans, who gave to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and to churches (the Houston area has a strong community in that area), want to do as much as they could, and they did. And it made them sad and grateful all at once.
Now, those who were displaced will have to replace everything from their drivers’ licenses to Medicare cards to tax records to big items such as cars. It’s hard to imagine what the residents of that region of Texas have endured and are about to endure. What will also ensue, perhaps, is a renewed discussion of climate change and its effects, and how it can be addressed. That would be a healthy discussion.
What the survivors have is their lives, and the scenes of many expressing their gratitude were common. Gratitude, after they had lost everything.
North Carolina has seen disasters, two named Fran and Floyd come to mind, and many residents know that desperate feeling that now grips the hearts of so many in Texas. Many know also the gratitude of those hardest hit for even the smallest acts of kindness.
And so North Carolinians dig deep and move to send along what they can to the victims of this tragedy. It appears they will have to do so again and again. They will do so gratefully, compassionately, for their fellow Americans.