Hurricane Harvey's Biggest Story? The People
As always, in times of crisis, it's the humanity that shines.
As Texas continues to be in crisis as a result of Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Harvey, I find I've been thinking a lot about friends and people I really admire.
I grew up in a small(ish) town in northeastern Alberta, Canada, and had the good fortune to attend a good high school. Like many who enjoy the high school experience, I was involved in athletics, specifically, track. I wasn't an exceptional athlete, by any stretch, but I had heart, and I was willing to work hard. Another of my colleagues was also on the track team, and she was gifted with natural athletic ability that she certainly did not take for granted. She was a talented runner and, until she inadvertently got speared in the shoulder with a javelin (I kid you not — I still remember the loonie-sized scar she showed me), was definitely one of the stars of the team. I remember attending her wedding reception to a man from Texas that she'd met; I can't remember if she was on a mission trip or he was, and it really doesn't matter. They've since gone on to have four amazing kids and have a happy life in Texas.
Another of my friends I met at the University of Alberta in Edmonton when we were both students in the Education program there. She was my guide to get back home when I stupidly attempted to get to class after an eye issue saw me getting an injection in my eye and subsequently having said eye patched, and I still remember a very eventful conversation over a pitcher of strawberry daiquiris at Earl's after exams one year. She gave me my first job as a newspaper reporter; she'd left the education field behind and became the editor of the small town where I grew up. After a stint at Ducks Unlimited, she had an opportunity to work for Dow that saw her move to Texas and get married, happily so with two gorgeous step-daughters.
There's also Dr. Brené Brown, a vulnerability researcher who has basically helped me in ways she will absolutely never know. I was led to her YouTube presentation either by my own counselor or through some sort of professional development activity that I ended up attending as a high school teacher who was helping at risk students. It really doesn't matter, but I was absolutely taken by this frank talking, smiling "researcher-storyteller" who said something in her presentation that stuck with me. She was talking about how kids are hardwired for struggle (we all are) and she said something to the effect about how parents should instead tell their kids something like:
"You know what? You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging."
It was something I've been struggling to realize my entire life, and it resonated. She resonated, and I follow her regularly on Facebook, including her recent posts about what she and her family are going through right now in the midst of Harvey.
Three very different people. All of them, Texas residents who are trying to help their people get through what is one of the biggest storms to hit the area in years. In the last image I saw, one friend was sent a picture of her home: She's with her family, staying with friends on higher ground, where water levels are midway up her garage door. She mentioned plans to get to a seniors' center that had opened its doors to other seniors where the workers were overloaded by the influx. She wanted to help. Dr. Brown posted about how her husband Steve was out helping people from his kayak, and she implored people to keep praying for Texas. In the process, she noted that her own mother had lost her home in the wake of the storm. My other friend, with whom I just spoke to last night on Facebook, said that she's been fortunate to still have power and still be dry. 22 inches of rain had fallen, with more to come. She, like so many others, noted how proud she was of how Texans have come together during this crisis and implored others to keep the state in their thoughts.
None of these three people are thinking of themselves during this devastating time in Texas. They're trying to help everyone else to get through. Their humanity, along with the humanity shown by so many others during this crisis, is a reflection of how things should be when life is calm.