Three thoughts on Harvey

After consuming several days of news on Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it has caused, I have three thoughts. 

Look for the helpers

The first thought is the famous Mr. Rogers quote.

When I was a little boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, “Look for the helpers. No matter how bad things are, there will always be helpers.” 

In the coming months, I’m sure we’ll read about different ways government agencies failed during the disaster. We’re also seeing the problems with private institutions – like Joel Osteen’s mega church – not reacting quickly. 

But for right now, you should notice the helpers.  

You see police and emergency responders risking their lives to help people. You see journalists offering their boats to stranded families.  You see everyday citizens doing extraordinary things. 

You see strangers lending hands. People coming from nearby communities to help out. They’re bringing boats. They’re bringing food. Supplies. These helpers come in all stripes. Some are poor. Some are rich. Some are republicans. Some are democrats. Some are black. Some are white. Some are Asian. Some are Hispanic. Mexico is sending aid. Simply, they’re humans helping humans.  

It sounds corny, but we cannot forget – I admit I too often do – that we are far more alike than we are different. 

Second, mark your calendar

Five years after hurricane Katrina, my wife, mother-in-law, and I took a trip to New Orleans.  They were still rebuilding. We spent a day with Habitat for Humanity. But we also shopped locally. That was actually why we went. We heard an NPR broadcast. The person being interviewed said that someone spending money in the New Orleans area could help save jobs. 

My point is that Houston won’t just need help today. They’ll need help in a few years. I have two simple suggestions. 

For the first one, put a jar aside in your kitchen. Put a quarter in it every now and then. A dollar here and there. In a year, maybe two, donate that money to a group in Houston. Habitat will be looking for help then, as will other charities.  

The second one is to put a note on your fridge. It will be a simple reminder, for, say, Valentine’s Day or Christmas 2018.  When that time comes around, search online for a Houston-based small business and purchase something from them. A lot of these business are going to struggle to get their legs back under them.  This is a way to help. 

Which brings us to our third point. And I’m not sorry, but we have to get political here. 

A national embarrassment

For far too long, our national infrastructure has been a national embarrassment. And there’s one reason: us. 

We don’t put pressure on our state, local and federal officials to update our infrastructure.  Many of the dams and levies affected were built 70 or more years ago.  This isn’t just about Houston. It’s about the next event. 

There litteraly isn’t one spot in the country that isn’t at risk to destruction by natural disasters. 

So we should be updated them based on new technologies. 

And everyone benefits. When you take on an infrastructure problem, you put Americans to work. Green technologies can be implemented. This is a win-win. Yes, we might all feel a pinch on our paychecks. But if more jobs are created while tackling the issue, we might be able ease the pressure on other parts of the budget. 

This won’t be the last national disaster to hit the United States. The quicker we get our acts together, the better. 

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