Ed­i­to­rial Amer­i­cans come to­gether to aid vic­tims of Har­vey

The Phoenix - - OPINION -

Char­lottesville showed us the worst in Amer­ica, the di­vi­sions that we still bat­tle; Houston showed us the best.

It took the awe­some – and dev­as­tat­ing – power of Mother Na­ture, in the for­mofHur­ri­cane Har­vey to put the united back in the United States.

Har­vey knew no bound­aries; it did not re­spect any so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus; it did not dis­crim­i­nate. It roared ashore as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane pack­ing 150mph winds and drench­ing rain.

It did not rec­og­nize white, black or brown. It only knew wet. It flooded multi-mil­lion dol­lar man­sions and low-in­come apart­ments. Har­vey in­un­dated the Houston re­gion with an epic 50 inches of rain, very likely the largest rain event in U.S. me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal his­tory.

Thou­sands were stranded in the quickly ris­ing flood wa­ter.

Tens of thou­sands were res­cued, some plucked from roofs, oth­ers in make-shift rafts try­ing to nav­i­gate the flood­wa­ters.

As many as 30,000 peo­ple sought refuge in shel­ters set up in the Houston area.

The fate of many oth­ers is not known – call cen­ters were be­ing del­uged with as many as 1,000 calls an hour seek­ing help.

Sadly, the death roll is ris­ing. Ex­pect it to go higher, with of­fi­cials fear­ful of what they may find once the wa­ter starts to re­cede.

If Char­lottesville laid bare the bit­ter racial di­vi­sions and dis­cord that still plague these United States, Har­vey united us in a col­or­blind so­ci­ety with one com­mon mis­sion: How can we help.

The re­lief ef­fort is not white. Or black. It is not Repub­li­can or Demo­crat. It is not lib­eral or con­ser­va­tive.

It is hu­man. And Amer­i­can. It is what Amer­i­cans al­ways do when con­fronted with a dis­as­ter. We open our hearts – and our wallets.

Do­na­tions are pour­ing into the Red Cross. You can make do­na­tions by vis­it­ing their web­site, red­cross.org; or by call­ing 1-800-RED-CROSS; or sim­ply tex­ting the word HAR­VEY to 9099 to make an au­to­matic $10 do­na­tion.

You can help the Sal­va­tion Army by go­ing to their web­site at help­sal­va­tion­army.org.

Con­ve­nience store gi­ant Wawa has formed a part­ner­ship with the Red Cross that will al­low cus­tomers to make a do­na­tion while get­ting their cof­fee or Shorti. Cus­tomers can do­nate $1, $3 or $5 to the Hur­ri­cane Har­vey re­lief ef­fort when pay­ing for their pur­chases at the cash reg­is­ter.

Telethons are be­ing set up to raise thou­sands of dol­lars.

Of course, in times of great need, peo­ple step up to meet the chal­lenge.

Vol­un­teers are headed to Houston with trucks loaded with di­a­pers, vans loaded with shoes.

Har­vey even man­aged to do the im­pos­si­ble. It’s pushed our elected lead­ers be­yond pol­i­tics to see the big­ger pic­ture of the epic need in Houston.

Take New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for ex­am­ple.

It did not es­cape the Repub­li­can’s no­tice that some of the very same Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress who op­posed an aid pack­age for vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Sandy, which caused dev­as­ta­tion along the Jersey shore in 2012, were now hold­ing out their hand, hop­ing for a huge boost of fed­eral aid for Texas.

Among them was Repub­li­can Sen. Ted Cruz.

While Christie chided Cruz for his hyp­o­crit­i­cal po­si­tion, he did not lose sight of the big­ger pic­ture.

Sure, he blasted Cruz’s stated po­si­tion that the $60 bil­lion aid pack­age back in 2012 to help Sandy vic­tims was loaded with pork as sim­ply be­ing untrue, but he could not bring him­self to deny help for those in Texas who are hurt­ing.

Christie urged mem­bers of Congress fromNew Jersey and New York to “let by­gones be by­gones” and vote for re­lief for Texas.

The lin­ger­ing wounds laid bare in Char­lottesville have not fully healed. Amer­ica has prob­lems – with race and any num­ber of other cru­cial is­sues.

This isn’t about that. This is about peo­ple in need.

If only Har­vey could drown those di­vi­sions that con­tinue to pit Amer­i­can vs. Amer­i­can as eas­ily as it put the fourth largest met­ro­pol­i­tan re­gion in the na­tion un­der wa­ter.

It did not. But it did do some­thing al­most as im­por­tant. It re­minded us of our ba­sic good­ness, our abil­ity to re­bound from seem­ing dev­as­ta­tion, and to form a com­mon bond to help those in need.

Char­lottesville drove us apart. Har­vey brought us to­gether. If only we could re­main that way and live up to our name: United.

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