Reno Gazette Journal September 10, 2017
The images we have seen on our television screens coming out of the Gulf Coast has been gut wrenching. We have seen entire neighborhoods under several feet of water close to two weeks after hurricane Harvey made landfall. America’s worst hurricane has put up some staggering numbers: The river in Beaumont rose eight feet, over 50 inches of rain fell (the most ever recorded in continental US), 43,000 people housed in shelters, over 185,000 homes impacted, 436,000 people seeking FEMA assistance, 8 Billion dollars of federal aid requested for the initial relief, and over 60 confirmed dead.
Those numbers are grim and our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost their loved ones, their homes and their belongings. Houston and the rest of the Gulf Coast have a long road ahead. It has been called a “1,000-year flood” and looking at the pictures, that is no exaggeration.
Out of that destruction caused by nature we saw the true American spirit: Neighbors helping neighbors, and strangers taking risk wading in flood waters to get seniors, women and children to safety. Who could forget the picture of that man carrying a lady in his arms, who in turn was carrying a child in her arms? So many inspiring stories have been borne out of this hurricane. When a high-water vehicle couldn’t reach her home, a Chief Medical Officer waded through waist deep water to get to it so that she can treat her patients. Another doctor walked three miles through flooded streets to treat his melanoma patient. A few men took a high-water vehicle to rescue a stranger. Numerous human chains were formed to help those in danger. How about that long line that formed of people not looking for food, water or shelter but signing up to help? Even those who weren’t nearby to swim or boat to rescue chipped in to help in other ways. Bitter rivals Yankees and Red Sox did a joint fundraiser. Titans Football star JJ Watt raised $18 million. Houston native Stacy Lewis won her first LPGA golf tournament in three years and donated all her winnings.
And there was the Cajun Navy, a group that was formed by average Americans during Hurricane Katrina when hundreds of people in hundreds of boats gathered to help rescue an estimated 10,000 people in New Orleans. A similar group got together to rescue many Houstonians who were trapped with no means of rescue. In most other countries, Armies and Navies are formed to kill fellow citizens. Only in America is such a group formed by average people, unprompted, trying to save lives.
One final point: Oftentimes, our media coverage is dominated by our divisions. I have always believed that such divisions do not represent a vast majority of Americans who are fair, reasonable and unbiased. The events in Houston stand testament to that, as strangers helped strangers not caring about whether someone is black or white, Democrat or Republican. These are examples of the true American spirit that is alive everyday, everywhere in this great country; only events like Harvey exhibit that spirit in such a large scale to draw positive media attention.