Where your treasure is: Hurricane Harvey one year later
It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago and in others it feels like yesterday. Of course, that’s easy for me to say because my home wasn’t destroyed and I am not still in the process of rebuilding my life. My area was not directly affected, other than by the “refugees” fleeing the storm, looking for a hot meal and a place to bed down until they could go home. Nonetheless, I remember the week following the storm well. I watched as people of my hometown lined up every morning at Academy to go down to the areas affected and try and rescue people. I watched as churches called on the Christian soldiers to gather supplies and try to feed the thousands that needed fed. And I watched a local hometown family mourn the loss of a husband and father who lost his life because he was electrocuted in the flood waters while trying to rescue others. It was a trying time to say the least and yet it was a time that restored your faith in humanity. Ordinary people put everything on hold at home or their jobs to go buy bottles of water and life jackets on credit cards to help people they had never met. Entire communities banned together to get what needed to be done, done. I have always loved Lufkin, my stomping ground, but I fell madly head over heels in love with her that week.
When I say I wasn’t personally affected, that is not entirely true. There was one event that I am quite sure I will remember for the rest of my life, but I’ll get to that in a moment. First I want to paint a picture for you of how it was. You see, it wasn’t just Houston. It was an area that covered as much acreage as some states. There were so many people that didn’t get out. And while some were quick to criticize because they didn’t leave, you have to understand--the storm wasn’t expected to be that bad. There wasn’t a warning of “This is going to be a storm of EPIC proportions get out now.” It was only a day or two before the storm hit that they started saying, “this storm could be a monster.” By that time, if you think all of Houston and the greater area could be evacuated in 24 hours time, then you clearly have never been to Houston. Even on a Saturday the traffic can be horrendous. In fact, if everyone had tried to get out by the time they started saying, “this could be bad,” I shutter to think what the loss of life would have been. So everyone battened down the hatches so to speak and waited it out.
Thank God for the Cajun Navy
Anyway, when the rain stopped, it was hard to believe just how bad the flooding was and how wide spread. It was clear though that people were not going to be able to wait it out on their rooftops. Enter the Cajun Navy. God bless their souls. These people brought their boats and know how and did what no government could have done. They showed that it’s the ordinary people who save the day and they reminded us that it’s we the people who are the government. And this is where my story gets personal. After watching these rescues for several days, Mr. Benton felt as if he could stand on the sidelines no longer. There were many like him. In many ways, I imagine it was some small way like the need one feels to go fight for their country, the need to defend the greater good. And so while he didn’t have a boat, he went to Academy and joined up with some stranger that did and off they went. When driving through the flood waters, the rule of thumb was is if the mailboxes disappeared, the water was too deep. The only problem is then they had to turn around and often there was not a place. I kid you not, we have video of them driving through water that was half way up the truck door.
For the sake of length, my dear reader I am not going to into all of the days events. I am only going to say that through a series of misfortunate happenings, I honestly thought when I woke up the next morning, that Mr. Benton had been swept away when the dam had reportedly been breeched. I still remember the tightness in my chest, the lump in my throat and the inability to be able to breathe. I remember running into my closet every five minutes to fling myself down on my knees and begging God to spare him. I wrote a facebook post pleading with my friends to pray. I thought about copying it here but I just can’t go there. Even now this is hard to write. Jackson told me later that he literally thought that his dad had died and I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him. I dropped him off at school with him thinking that. All the while I thought I had been stoic and a great actress. Jackson says, “Mother, you are quite honestly the worst actress in the World.”
It’s another to feel it in your heart…
Thankfully, three hours later, Mr. Benton did call and put my fears to rest. I have never been so elated in my life. He had been “relatively” safe and sound the whole time. But the point of this blog post is this, I knew in that moment that all that really mattered was my family. The cliche really was true. It’s one thing to say it, it’s another to feel it in your heart. I had told God that if He would just spare him, I would never ask for anything again.
Fast forward a year, and I have already broken that promise to God many times. I like to think He smiles. I wouldn’t choose to go through those eternal hours again for all the money in the world, but I am thankful for the lesson. The lesson was priceless. And now when I get stressed, I try to remember that whatever it is, it is nothing. May we all remember the lesson without actually having to learn it.