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  • Writer's pictureMichael Wellings

Hurricanes and the Human Condition

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hurricane Harvey when I first heard about it. When the news reported that a hurricane was going to hit Houston and the Texas gulf at large, I thought the effects were largely going to be a few homes without power, perhaps some minor flooding, and a general sense of aggravation from people that their daily lives were going to be disrupted. See, I’ve never experienced a hurricane, and as the days leading up to Harvey went on, I began to hear more and more that this storm was going to be a doozy. People around me started stocking up on food, water, and gasoline, and here I was thinking, is it really going to be that bad? Of course, we all know the answer to that. Harvey was, perhaps, the most devastating event to hit our region since 1961. It was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the US since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. This storm was a 1000 year flood event that dropped almost 52 inches of rain in some areas. In other words, in any given year, the likelihood of a storm like Harvey happening is 0.1%. And yet, it happened.

As the rains fell and the toll continued to rise, I really couldn’t believe my eyes. People lost their lives. Streets were turned into rivers. Mothers carried their children out of flooded out homes in waist deep water. Infants were being floated along streets in plastic containers. Thousands upon thousands of cars were stranded and abandoned. Businesses ceased to operate, contractors and hourly workers were unable to work to provide for themselves and their families. Those poor weather channel employees facing the brunt of the storm just couldn’t get a break. The cost of this storm, in terms of both human and business capital, is simply unfathomable. The depth of destruction seemed to know no bounds.

In the midst of the trials and tribulations of this storm, it’s all too easy to lose hope for yourselves and those you love and care about. Complete decimation of everything someone holds dear can do that to a person. The thing is, we, as human beings, resonate with sympathy as those around us suffer. It is with that in mind that I would offer this beacon of hope to you, and those that are suffering: You are not forgotten. Just as the storm and its effects were unfathomable, the outpouring of support and love is equally as unfathomable. People from all over this nation and world are sending help to Texas, in the form of money, people, boats, and a myriad of other goods. I personally have met people from 3 different states, people who dropped their agendas and lives when they learned about this tragedy, and came to do whatever they could to help. Images and videos of people helping people, regardless of color, clan, or creed, are more powerful than any storm. When shelters can’t accept any more volunteers because they’re at capacity, when pro athletes raise over $20 million in relief effort, when fleets of civilian boats come to rescue perfect strangers, these are among the things that describe the very best of humanity.

I’m afraid that when future people discuss the effects of this storm, they’ll only talk about the economic dollars lost, the number of homes destroyed, or the amount of rain that fell. Yes, that happened, but that’s not the most important thing we saw. When people talk about this in the future, I hope they focus on what was one of the most perfect examples of the human condition displayed in our time. When tragedy strikes, we help each other, and we rebuild. As I said earlier, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hurricane Harvey. What I saw blew me away.

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