More than a storm for the history books.
In the days leading up to Hurricane Harvey, there was a whole lot of speculation. Of course, no one knew which way this storm would shift and how very strong it would be. There was no way to measure the catastrophic damage left behind, and no way to estimate the volume of love that now saturates our great state of Texas.
We were held captive by the storm, but more-so captivated by love.
Like the majority of others residing in Houston, we were held captive in our home as stormwaters surged on and as destruction happened all around us. Helpless and heartbroken, we couldn't travel out to check on our loved ones or even to fathom the amount of devestation all around us. Once the roads re-opened, we obeyed officals' orders to continue to stay home, allowing roadway access for those who really needed to travel and save lives. Once we were able to get out, my oldest daughter and I visited her middle school where relief operations were underway. My daughter had attended this school for just four days prior to the storm...but this tragedy had already drawn us in and built community there. We worked with many other volunteers, feverishly, to organize supplies and help those in need find the bare essentials...though many lost everything they had.
Beauty from ashes.
The entire experience of building community out of such a tragedy on the heart of every single person was so humbling, so heartbreaking and life-altering. That's when I realized, there is so much more love in this great state...more love than there could ever be water. As we moved on from operations at the middle school, the storm damage truly hit home. My friends' homes. Kristy's home was nearly swallowed by the storm. I was heading to help her when she said, "so many people are here helping, people I don't even know! How awesome is that?!" So, I headed to my friend Kelley's home who was also flooded. To make matters worse, Kelley's husband is in long-term rehabilitative care after suffering an injury. Her world was seemingly collapsing from all angles at the time of the storm.
When I first heard from Kelley, she had no help. After putting some feelers out - we were able to secure the masses to come help Kelley begin the repair process. Volunteers who had seen my social media post came from all over to help. We stayed until our work there was done. And, knowing that so many others were also waiting on help, how could we stop there? We moved through the neighborhood from house to house until we were no longer needed. This lasted a few days. Some of the homes and businesses I volunteered in belonged to people I knew, but many were strangers brought together by devastation. I couldn't log in my facebook and scroll for two seconds without seeing yet another person flooded and in need of clean out. I walked into strangers homes and felt so much heartache as I was helping throw away their flooded memories. The heart-warming part, though, was that we were instantly a team - a community in this recovery. We weren't going to let someone go through this alone. Strangers or friends, we were doing this together.
We will not stop. We can't be stopped.
My family and I have switched back and forth between manual labor in homes and businesses where everything has been lost and volunteering at centers providing meals and supplies; Of course, we all just want life to return to normal. We want to go back to the day-to-day, but when there's so much devastation... it's really not possible. We're loving our neighbor at every turn... and putting ourselves and our agendas aside to help re-build and repair what this tragedy has un-done.
Once again, despite the tragedy; the loss; the destrction; love is now what's surging and pouring down through the great state of Texas. And what a beautiful sight it is.