With the east coast recovering from the overnight devastation of Hurricane Sandy, I have much compassion for residents’ plight. Prior to moving to Houston in 1998, I seldom thought about hurricanes. Since then we’ve dealt with three massive storms.
In June 2000, Tropical Storm Allison stalled and dumped 35 inches of rain – flooding downtown and a major highway. The only non-hurricane to have its name retired did an estimated $5.5 billion in damage.
In September 2005, just four weeks after Katrina devastated Louisiana, Cat 3 Rita took dead aim at Houston, then veered off to the east at the last minute. Two days prior, we were part of the largest evacuation in US history – three million people. Our normal four-hour journey to Dallas took 12. Friends left an hour after us and were in their car for 20 hours. We came home when the power returned five days later… and everything looked the same.
From 2-8 a.m. on the early morning of September 13, 2008, our family and dog gathered in a small interior bathroom to ride out Hurricane Ike. When it passed, I walked into the cul de sac to speak with neighbors, happy all seemed well. They pointed behind me to the home next to ours. It was split in half by a fallen tree. Rain returned a few hours later and ruined the house. The residents didn’t return for 14 months. In all, Ike left 2.3 million people without power… for up to three weeks. It caused $19.3 billion in destruction.
Hurricanes are one of nature’s most brutal forces. Without experiencing the fear, flooding and feelings of those involved, it’s hard to have sympathy – despite seeing the sad pictures on the news today. Thousands of your fellow citizens are dealing with a tremendous burden. Spare a moment to think of them. If you’re a believer, say a prayer. If you have spare dollars, send a few their way via Red Cross. Someday, you may be in need of a similar act of kindness. When you are, someone will be there. This is a great opportunity to pay it forward.