Recovering from Harvey

By Eric Smith

Our area has been hit by such a tremendous disaster that it is hard to put it into words. Rather than focus on the tragedy of the loss of life and property, I want to focus on the beauty of what I witnessed.

Even though I got eight inches of water in my house and had to spend a week tearing out sheetrock and carpet, I saw the beauty of what makes America great. If you watch a Hollywood movie, in times of crisis Hollywood portrays Americans as self-centered animals who rob and pillage each other at every turn. Fortunately for us, the truth is very different. I saw complete strangers risk their lives and give of their time to help complete strangers they may never see again. I saw neighbors helping neighbors. Communities banded together to support first responders with whatever they needed to continue their life saving work. A fleet of Cajun rednecks in little boats left the safety of their homes in Louisiana to trek through a storm to help Texans in need. In moments like Hurricane Harvey, we saw the best of America — not racial animosity like we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia a couple of weeks prior, and not political turmoil that embroils Washington DC. We saw unity. Nobody stopped to ask the person that needed help who they voted for, what they thought of the Confederate flag, whether they were in a union or not, or which football team they root for. They just helped.

Hollywood and the news media would have us believe that America is a divided country. While there are few hate mongers out there that seek to divide us, the truth is that the vast majority of us just want to live our lives in peace with neighbors and family. The vast majority of us has good hearts and loves our country. Even in my own community, I saw the best of America. A guy named Scott who I had never met prior to the hurricane brought over a Shopvac and helped me get what out of my house after we pulled out the water logged carpet. I put out a call for help to move debris on my neighborhood Facebook and within 10 minutes, I had three guys in my yard helping, two of which I had never met. Even though we weren’t in the best of shape, when the call went out for meals to be provided to first responders in Mont Belvieu, my wife made spaghetti and had me deliver it to the neighborhood collection point so our first responders had something to eat while they spent endless days helping our community.

I submit to you that Texas has shown our nation the very best of the American spirit. We faced grave adversity. We didn’t run and hide, we met it head on. We didn’t say, “This can’t be done.” We said, “How can we get this done?” We will tear out the decay in our homes and we will rebuild. We are not alone. I’ve personally seen help coming from across the nation. Our fellow Americans will help us in our hour of need, and in the future when they are in need, an army (or navy) of Texans will appear on their horizon like the horsemen of Rohan riding to the rescue of the besieged people of Helm’s Deep in the Lord of the Rings. With God’s help and our American sense of determination, we will overcome this disaster and build a better Texas for future generations.