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Houston Has a Problem, and Its Name Is Harvey: A Glimpse at Houston in the Face of Disaster

Last Thursday night, just about every teenager in Houston whose school was in session can remember how they felt when they received the text or email which notified them that school would be closed on Friday due to severe weather. Around this time, the entire city realized an actual hurricane was on its way, because Houston schools are the type to wait until 06:00 the day of to cancel classes. So the fact that they did so an entire night before meant that this hurricane was something serious.

So Houston families started taking basic hurricane precautions; like filling up gas tanks in case of necessary evacuations and buying enough food and water to last them through the weekend. However, even with these precautions, the city of Houston was ill-prepared for the overwhelming, constant, life-threatening rainfall and flooding that we were faced with Sunday morning. Rain water covered major highways and streets, making roadways impassable and hard for rescue teams to reach families desperately in need. Neighborhoods like mine, that had never even previously experienced minor flooding, saw waters go up to their knees and fill entire streets, rising up past sidewalks. Other neighbourhoods were met with such catastrophic flooding that the waters entered and ravaged their houses, forcing the families to wait for help and find shelter elsewhere. As a by-product of the storm, 16 tornadoes touched down in the Greater Houston area, impacting and damaging several houses. Additionally, certain divisions are requiring their residents to evacuate due to incoming flooding.

Despite being inundated by both fear and waters, I’ve witnessed the people of my city open up their hearts and lend helping hands to those whom Hurricane Harvey left devastated, displaced, and vulnerable. Whether it be through social media- by circulating emergency rescue numbers and the locations of shelters, regular civilians with boats or kayaks going out of their way to help stranded animals and trapped families, Houston’s mayor assuring protection against deportation for immigrants seeking shelter, or through small acts of sending quick texts to check up on family and friends, my city has shown immense care and compassion. H-town has truly held itself down.

But, what I need is for my city to match that same energy in the upcoming days and weeks. Harvey is going to drastically hit us again this Wednesday, so anyone who can volunteer at shelters or donate supplies would be making an incredible difference. Even after Harvey passes, we shouldn’t regress to focusing solely on our personal lives.

It shouldn’t take immediate threats of natural disasters for us to begin sympathizing with and caring about our neighbor’s well being.

Remember those people you sent well wishes and prayers to? Well, to what is faith and prayer without works? Find a way to get involved in your schools, churches, communities and help ensure that the people devastated by the flood are not left abandoned and to their own means once the waters withdraw.

Here’s a full list of Houston shelters available. Want to help? Donate directly to help relieve victims of the Houston flood here. Here are resources for those interested and eligible to volunteer in the area.

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