When I set out to write for 100 days, I did not plan for a hurricane to hit my home state on day 12. I have tried to power on for the last few days, but I need to take a day to reflect on this experience. I must confess, I am in the thick of it. I firmly believe that wisdom and clarity comes in reflection, but sometimes, I just need to get my thoughts and feelings on the screen and worry about fluidity and creativity another day. Here is what I know:
- This beast of a storm has dumped more than 52″ of rain on my hometown since Saturday. Just to reference, we have a normal annual rainfall average of 49.77″.
- Unlike most tropical systems, this one has been hanging around for days, and in the wake of wind has come rain, rain, flooding, more rain, more flooding, and tragedy.
- This has been scary. I have spent multiple nights walking the floor staring out the window every 15 min to see if floodwaters were going to reach my foundation.
- People everywhere, even on the WEST side of town are being evacuated tonight, FOUR DAYS after landfall because the bayous cannot contain the rain. This is unheard of.
One of the worst and most unpredictable parts of this mess has been the flood waters. I don’t like being cut off from people I love by powerful bodies of water. My parents have been trapped in the med center without the ability to have visitors or even have access to the regular services of the hospital. My sister is battling resevoir breeches near her house. Just today, she helped to rescue 22 people from nearby neighborhoods by boat. WHAT? This is crazy. What in the freaking world?!?
For those of you not from around these parts, we can be cavalier about hurricanes. War stories of riding out “the big one” are told by native coastal dwellers with pride. But what you need to know is this is not a normal hurricane. The effects of this storm are so far beyond the comprehension of even those who understand atmospheric pressure. While they may have predicted aspects of the science, how it would play out in water and wind and rain (have I mentioned rain) was beyond reality.
There are two groups of people who should never be underestimated: people who follow Jesus and people from Texas. Both are special in their own ways. Texans don’t give up. Our pride and our grit and our heart is as big as our state. We believe that when things are in the royal crapper, we pull together and take care of each other. We do what we can to support and love and generously seek to take care of all who have roots, no matter how new, in our state. We are fighters.
Secondly, my heart and drive is rooted to be in the mix with our world though the expression of Jesus sized love. I like to think that if Jesus was on the earth today, he would like what he sees happening in Houston. Our heart and love to go where we are told is dangerous, to love when the roads are stormy and to reach out in ways that are uncomfortable define the call of the Church today. I’m proud to say that I am walking through this deep water in community with people that raise people high and Jesus higher.
I could tell you of the many tragedies that I have seen already, but I want to close with this. Sunday night, I tossed and turned all night worried. I slept only 1.5 hours the night before, and I feared more overnight flooding. When we woke up Monday morning, I knew the girls and I couldn’t sit anymore. We needed to get our hands dirty loving and helping. I posted on Facebook that we would be opening our church building for donations at 11am. Note to all, when I have a key to a building, I am known to put it to use, permission or not. I had no idea if we would have anyone come, but I knew that I needed to try. By 2pm, we were overflowing with donations. So I called friends, we brainstormed plans, we sorted clothes, we gathered food, we said “yes”. Someone asked how we became a donation center, the long and short of it was, we showed up. We unlocked the door and when people asked if they could help, we said, let’s go.
I wonder sometimes what would happen if we said ‘yes’ more? My guess is that the world would be a bit less lonely; that people would reach out rather than shut out. I think conversations would be learning opportunities rather than shouting matches. This is what the world needs. I have seen that when desperation happens and all hope is lost and you are sitting on the roof of your house with flood waters rising, you are thankful for the rescue boat.
Even if they have different politics.
Even if they don’t do things just like your tribe does it.
Even when you thought rescue was coming from another direction.
We are made to help each other. Let’s get to it, ya’ll.