From disaster comes the goodness of humanity
In the middle of disaster and destruction, comes redemption and reassurance.
Hurricane Harvey continues to cause misery in parts of Texas and Louisiana. People lost their homes, their possessions. Some lost their lives or loved ones.
But in the devastation, people demonstrated their humanity.
In the middle of a terrible natural disaster – with the promise of more flooding to come – a flotilla of private boat operators joined the National Guard and first responders in fanning out to perform dramatic rescue efforts.
It was strangers helping strangers solely because of need on one side and a desire to serve on the other.
The first instinct is to want to help.
The Arizona Army National Guard sent helicopters and crews to help. Arizonans are part of Red Cross efforts. Others are sending donations.
The magnitude of this disaster is hard to grasp.
“I know for a fact this is the worst flood Houston has ever experienced,” Patrick Blood, National Weather Service meteorologist, told the Houston Chronicle over the weekend.
On Sunday, 16.07 inches of rain fell on the nation’s fourth-largest city, bringing the weekend total to more than two feet of rain. Two feet.
It was so bad that authorities had trouble pinpointing the worst areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency expects 450,000 people to seek federal aid as a result of the storm, and an estimated 30,000 people will need emergency shelter. Those numbers could go higher.
On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated the entire Texas National Guard, and Houston’s reservoirs were opened, which leads to more flooding now in the hope of averting a larger problem later. Rain continued.
Through it all, volunteers worked with emergency crews to rescue people who were stranded on rooftops and in other precarious situations.
Through it all, Americans came together for each other.
Make no mistake. When this is all over, there will be recriminations. People will return to their respective political corners and hurl stones. There will be blame for mistakes —and no emergency operation of this size can be undertaken without human mistakes.
When the bickering starts, Americans should remember this time of com-ing together.
Human mistakes are inevitable.
But so is the human desire to help.
Above all, we're decent and want to help
The tremendous show of people helping people during this crisis is a reminder that despite widening political differences, Americans are decent people who care deeply about each other.
We come together like a family when bad things happen — a sentiment President Trump expressed at a press conference Monday.
Bitter tears won’t wash away memory of what was lost — from buildings to baby shoes. But the memory should endure of how everyday folks joined first responders and the National Guard to keep people safe.
It’s evidence our shared humanity and our natural compassion for those we know are hurting.
We live in a society where in-your-face anger is often mistaken for real commitment, where noise is often mistaken for substance, where it can be easy to forget that we are in this together.
The early response to the ravages of Harvey shows that deep down we know what really matters: People helping each other.
Arizona Republic, Aug. 28