Hurricane Harvey and Reflections on Returning to Houston

(Sorry about the hashtags. I am learning how to use Instagram stories and forgot to save before I added text)

Here are my reflections on Harvey over the past few days. They are a bit scatterbrained but hopefully you can follow my thoughts. I am lucky that my family and our home were safe during the hurricane. So many weren’t as lucky as us.

As Harvey was coming in, I was fortunate to be going out. I felt glad in a way, that I was outsmarting the hurricane, although typing that statement now makes me feel disgusted with myself. It wasn’t really until I got to LA that the real magnitude of what was happening hit me. You can hear predictions and statistics all day long but the ugly truth is, there is nothing like seeing something in action.

See Harvey, I and the world did.

My social media, usually filled with puppies and fashion on Instagram, and politics and cat videos on Facebook, was inundated with videos showing devastation around my city. The rain came pouring down, and there was nothing any of us could do to stop it. All we could do was watch in horror, as streets and homes filled with water. I watched as families and their pets were rescued by boats from their houses, they believed would always keep them safe and dry.

There I sat dry and 1373 miles away, watching catastrophe unfold at home, as the city around me operated business as usual.

In LA I found myself in a bizarre world where simply saying “I’m from Houston” suddenly received responses not dissimilar to the ones I get when I say “I had cancer”. No one ever wants their hometown to be the subject of pity and awkward silences. Suddenly home became a headline, synonymous with utter devastation. I never thought I’d miss the days of people asking me if I rode a horse to school. Now all the Texas stereotypes seem welcome.

It’s frustrating because, I want people to know Houston for it’s achievements not Hurricane Harvey. I want them to see a city that produces energy for the world and has the world’s largest Medical center. The 4th largest city in the US, has been reduced to dirty water and people canoeing down interstates, as the eyes of the nation and the world gaze upon us. It’s a very odd feeling.

Flying in this morning a sense of relief washed over me.The rest of the people on UA 2027 from LAX to IAH seemed to share the feeling. It was nice to be home, even if the landscape of that home is forever altered.

Viewing the remains of Harvey from the air was a unique and sobering perspective.

From the window seat (my favorite) I had a front row seat. I’ve always appreciated the way that rivers shine on a sunny day as you fly overhead. The sunlight glistening off the water creates a fleeting sparkle that almost feels private, as you know that few will have the chance to see this view. Today though the sparkling of the water shined not just in the designated lakes and rivers but in entire forests it had swallowed. The water was mercifully receding but on certain streets and in many backyards it was still showing its circumstantially insidious light reflection. Harvey, like many disasters in our lives, has a way twisting beautiful positive things into darkness and misery.

After take off this morning, I also felt relieved that I could finally get involved in a more tangible way. Sitting in Malibu on the beach was amazing but my heart was hurting for those dealing with catastrophe back home. Now I feel like I can at least do something, rather than watching helplessly a thousand miles away. As I type this I am currently sitting in my church office, fielding calls of both evacuees and potential volunteers. It is only the start of a long road though for this city and I intend to help in anyway I can.

I take comfort though in knowing that Houston will rise again, better and stronger than ever before. The acts of generosity and sacrifice that this storm have brought are the things I hope will be remembered when we look back upon the history of this great city. I also hope they will be remembered when we see our neighbors. I hope that when inevitable trials and disagreements come we will look back to this time of pure love and community. For it is love that will fix Houston and heal the hearts broken by this devastating storm.

With Love and Texas Forever,

Paige

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One Reply to “Hurricane Harvey and Reflections on Returning to Houston”

  1. Hey Paige, thanks for sharing your heartfelt reactions and about your journey back home to get involved in a more tangible way. I did follow closely from a continent away and I know it doesn’t compare to facing the after effects In person. I am sorry your home had to undergo such watery devastation and destruction. God is in control and because of him we have hope. This situation will bring families, communities and entire nation together. May God continue to provide all you, your family and beloved state need to heal, recover, rebuild and flourish once again

    Liked by 1 person

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