Hurricane Harvey’s havoc a humbling reminder
You have seen images of water ripping through Texas communities.
Washing out roads, sweeping away cars and shifting the foundations of homes, Hurricane Harvey left a path of destruction and an opportunity for reconciliation.
In a nation gripped by partisan bickering, fights for transgender equality, ill-thought immigration policies, white nationalists’ uprisings and international missile threats, we have been in an extended nightmare of man pitted against man, faith against faith and American values tested in the face of conflicting ideologies.
Then Harvey showed up to douse the flames of division and disarray. Harvey reminded us of who we are as a nation and a people.
Some brought boats.
Others provided food, dry clothes and supplies.
Many held hands and made human chains to pull strangers from rising waters. Others drove people out of harm’s way. From neighboring cities and across the country, people showed up when it counted. Harvey, like Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Andrew, humbly reminded us that in the end we are treading water together. We sink or sail contingent upon our ability to do what is right, fair and just by one another.
This storm, too, shall pass. It will be then that we truly measure what we are made of as a country. Hard questions will be asked of our local leaders, legislators and president. We will be forced to face how we have treated others on “principle” to delay resources and funding packages to neighbors in New Orleans, New York and New Jersey when they needed it most.
While President Donald Trump assured Texans the administration is there for them, some will remember that Mike Pence, while still a congressman, infamously said we can’t allow a natural disaster to bankrupt our next generation.
So, we will wait to see what financial cost legislators are willing to bear to help a city that is not their own. Katrina and Sandy’s damages were $160 billion and $70 billion, respectively. It’s ironic that nearly all of Texas’s congressional delegation opposed the relief package for New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy. I guess they are asking others not to do unto them, what they did unto others.
We will wait to see which scammers show up, to bilk Texans out of their money.
We will debate the role of climate change in the severity of Harvey.
We will lament infrastructure and city planning.
But nationally and locally, we should be reminded of the example set by the survivors and volunteers of this hurricane.
We can weather any storm, when we work together.
Lena C. Taylor is a Democratic state senator from District 4, with offices at the Capitol in Madison and in Milwaukee. Her website is legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/04/taylor.
State Sen. Lena Taylor.