On Aug. 26, Hurricane Harvey hit rural Texas as a massive Category 3 Hurricane. The aftermath needs no explanation. By now, everyone has heard of the massive destruction the storm has caused. Most of the city of Houston has been deluged with over thirty inches of rain. The tiny town of Highlands, just northeast of Houston, registered 51.88 inches of rain. Scientists have estimated more than 24 trillion gallons of water have fallen over southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana. In goes without saying that recovery is going to take a long time; in this case we are talking years and perhaps even decades. It’s hard to even comprehend the magnitude of this disaster.
I remember the first time I went to Louisiana was in 2010. This was five years after Katrina left a trail of destruction in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. Five years after the storm there were still homes and lives being rebuilt. It was hearing those stories about how individuals were living their live with their finger on the pause button. Jobs were hard to come by and people were still dealing with the trauma losing everything than cause. Even five years after the storm, people were coming to grips to what happened.
And that doesn’t even begin to describe the physical scars of the land. Entire blocks of neighborhoods were simply washed away. The building that did happen to stay were barely standing upright. Street lights went un-replaced and even street signs were never put back up. I am sure that urban decay was already in progress in New Orleans, but Katrina sped that process up.
And while it is easy to look back and stand in awe of the destruction that was caused, that is not the whole story. It’s not the whole story because even in Katrina and now with Harvey, these dark storms allow humanity to shine brightly.
Aren’t we all comforted and warmed to see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping stranger? Aren’t we all compelled to make a donation to those groups that either in Houston or on their way to help folks put their lives back together?
I’d like to think we are all willing to help because we hate to see others suffer and when there are those that are in need, we answer the call. I’d also like to think we help because we realize we want to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves. We want to do what we can to be part of the reconstruction of this world.
This can be seen as humanity’s time to shine.
And yet, my heart breaks because there is brokenness right here at home.
Don’t get me wrong, we live in an abundantly generous community. Our part of the world is blessed with those that are willing to give resources to help others. We also have those people and organizations that are called to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
And while you may never see a television report up to their knees in water here in Miami County, don’t let that fool you, there are storms that people are enduring and surviving each and every day right here at home.
Perhaps it’s the loss of a loved one, perhaps it’s the loss of a job or a livelihood, or perhaps it’s the pain of addiction.
If there is one thing I wish we could see more clearly, it’s that many of us are going through these storms each and every day. And we don’t have to wait for 51 inches of water to help our neighbors or help that stranger.
If there is one thing I have noticed, there are more sources of division out there than ever before. We have allowed ourselves to be defined by race, gender and even political views. It is getting too easy to allow ourselves to be divided.
It’s at this time we need to be listening carefully. Those voices that are tearing us apart recognize that we are stronger together and we can show that we are stronger together when we come together and help make our communities stronger as we help each other recover from our own storms.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.