Americans come together to aid victims of Harvey
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 form of Hurricane 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 from New 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.