B y the time you read this, the healing is in full swing.
Publishing requirements mean that every column you read goes to press a full two months before the magazine hits the stands. It’s a tricky proposition to try and make concrete statements that demand you make anything more than a relatively vague prediction.
The being said, I am more than confident when I say that the Coastal Bend and Upper Texas Coast is firmly entrenched in rebuilding and recovering from the mauling that Hurricane Harvey inflicted back in late August/early September.
They aren’t doing it by themselves. The rest of the state is offering a hand.
Harvey’s destruction was reminiscent of other storms that hit the area, such as the Indianola Hurricane of 1886, the Great Galveston Hurricane, Hurricane Celia, and Hurricane Ike. Like the aforementioned cyclones, Harvey’s level of destruction and flooding was almost beyond comprehension. For more than a week, every major news program was filled with surreal images of entire communities flattened, normally dry areas flooded above rooftops, and remarkable images of human suffering.
The response from the unafflicted parts of Texas, however, was typical. People from every part of the state hitched up boats, loaded supplies onto trailers, truck beds, and car trunks, and went to render aid and comfort.
Many of those who couldn’t make the trip dug into their wallets and pocketbooks and contributed what they could to the victims of the monstrous destruction. Help came from the Rio Grande Valley, the Llano Estacado, North Texas, West Texas, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Abilene, Waco. Suddenly, areas that had been depopulated by evacuations had become crowded with men and women who were there simply to help.
Texans don’t wait to be told to help. We act.
My father, son, and I were taking a load of water, canned food, and other supplies to our church to contribute to the aid movement. Dad told me of a fellow teacher at his school who had gone to Houston to help rescue people who were flooded out of their homes and had no place to go.
I added that two groups of boat owners, dubbed the Texas Navy and Cajun Navy were already in Houston doing the same. Dargel owners, Shallow Sport owners, Majek, Blue Wave, airboats and Jon boats, all made the exodus to Houston to save the trapped.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Dad said. “We might be at each other’s throats, but when it comes time to unite, we always do.”
It struck me that there hasn’t been mention of the issues that seemed to matter so much before tragedy struck. No one has asked who voted for whom, or who is what nationality. No one mentioned Obamacare. All anybody mentioned was that there was a lot of work to be done.
Perhaps everyone was too busy.
Perhaps, in the grand scheme, it really doesn’t matter.
Texans are often not portrayed in the best light. Television shows often depict Texans as “sophisticated hicks” who blunder through the world in our cowboy hats and Tony Llama boots.
I remember a particular episode of Hawaii 5-0, a character who was supposed to be a Texas Ranger (right down to the Stetson, boots, and Wranglers) stood off McGarrett and Danno, who were aiming automatic weapons at him, with a Colt SAA revolver.
For a few news cycles, however, the rest of the world saw the real Texas. No hats. No boots. No six guns—just good men and women doing what they could to help other good men and women. That’s the real Texas.
I remember a college professor of mine who was discussing the damage and loss of life of Hurricane Hugo, which had slammed into South Carolina. He marveled at the resilience of humanity comparing them to a colony of ants. If the ant hill gets kicked over, the ants immediately work on re-building it. If it happens again, they rebuild again—and again, and again.
People are remarkable, he said. Their civilizations have been destroyed by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, fire, and war. Years, even centuries, of effort are wiped away in a fraction of the time it took to build it. The day after the debacle, the ants begin to rebuild.
In Texas, the ants have a lot of help in the rebuild. It’s the Texas way.
It will take time for Port Aransas, Rockport, Houston, and Beaumont to rebuild. The destruction won’t be undone overnight, or even in a few months. But the people of these regions are vibrant, energetic, and tough. By now, in November, the rebuild is well on its way.
Texans don’t wait. We act.
Email Cal Gonzales at
Email Cal Gonzales at [email protected]