When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
— Fred Rogers
At last count, it is estimated that 72,000 rescues were enacted as a result of Hurricane Harvey and this epic national disaster is not over yet. Seventy-two thousand and counting. Let that sink in.
There are simply no words for the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. We have not even begun to understand the loss.
What we do know is that among the wrenching chaos are so many brave souls.
In the event I am involved in any sort of challenging natural disaster, I will be the first to perish. I am unprepared and whiny. If things get dire, feel free to eat me, use as a flotation device, use me for something practical.
Knowing I am next to useless for anything, but maybe sending cash or food and applying a mean Band-Aid when necessary, I am always impressed with the selflessness of skilled volunteers.
I am so glad that there are so many helpers in the world. On that note, as people lament children these days, let us take a moment to note that as Hurricane Harvey ravaged their region.
It is reported that four teenage boys, all high school students in Houston, pulled out a small fishing boat and paddled around rescuing upward of 50 people and numerous pets.
They represent only a small fraction of the many people of all ages who leapt into action even as the rain continued to fall and the water to rise.
Caravans of people brought their personal watercraft to aid in rescue. Many people brought boats knowing there was a risk of damage to their personal watercraft from debris and rising and lowering floodwaters.
Still, they came to save lives. That is the definition of selfless.
For those awaiting rescue, we saw can-do spirit. A young mother tucked her baby into a cozy floating bed fashioned out of a plastic storage tub to literally float her child, Moses style, in safety.
That is Mama Bear ingenuity at its finest.
A volunteer carried a young mother clutching a blissfully sleeping baby to her chest. The rescuer did not know the woman. He was not saving his own child. He just waded into a bad situation in hoping of making things better.
This story repeated hundreds and thousands of times over. People jumped in, literally, to assist others.
A smiling woman, making the best of a beyond bad situation, paddled a small boat through her kitchen. The water was cresting her countertops. Still, she grinned knowing she was safe even if the structure around her was not. God bless her.
Another family put their young children to bed on their kitchen counters. Their photo showed the children sprawled out with blankets while the water crept ever higher. Two of the children were clearly laughing.
I hate that this happened to them but thought to myself, those children are going to shine in life. If you can laugh while napping on cabinetry, you’re a pretty resilient soul.
Here in the Midwest, we are safe and dry. We pray for our neighbors in this path and for their comfort, safety and recovery in the aftermath.
All the calamity and column fodder of First World Problems such as the endless kitchen renovation, back to school blues, and wandering livestock aside, may we pray for all those impacted through no fault of their own — and all those helpers who chose to wade in with no thought to their own comfort.
Please keep all lives in the path of a hurricane comfortable and safe.