Texas Strong and Proud: What I Realized Living Through Hurricane Harvey

We live on this earth and our planet likes to remind us that it is alive. It shakes, it sweats and dances to make sure we acknowledge its presence. Every day things happen that throw off our plans. Weddings get rained on, events get canceled and places get snowed in. We accept and expect Mother Nature to be unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean we are always prepared. We are not always kind to her or each other. At times I question our humanity and where it has gone, especially with everything going on in the world. But this weekend, my hope in humanity has been restored.

Imagine going to work on Friday and everyone is preparing for a storm that has chosen our state like an uninvited visitor.  On one hand, gas stations and grocery stores are chaotic and, on the other hand, people are throwing hurricane parties. Friday night was spent with half of the city in fear of the hurricane making its way to us, and the other half taking advantage of all the hurricane drink specials.  

As Saturday morning rolls around, the hurricane has touched the coast, but the city was not as heavily impacted as predicted so we continue on our lives, planning watch parties for the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight. Jokes and laughter ring in every household and business as we laugh at the face of Harvey.  As the hours pass by, the wind is howling louder for the entire city to hear and Harvey is laughing at us for underestimating him. One night of rain and our lives will have changed forever.

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Saturday night we see the first brutal swing Tropical Storm Harvey has taken on our city. It hit us right in the face so hard we fell over, but he wasn’t done yet. An underestimated fight in which we were unaware of the strength our opponent held. The clouds were furious as they threw gallons and gallons of water in our city. Wind thrashing the neighbor’s fencing, punching it to the ground. You can hear the roar of the eerie, crazy wind making the rain dance to its tune and crushing everything in its path. Those are not drops of water that are falling but my city getting torn apart in every corner and at every edge. It took Harvey one night to strip homes, businesses, and throw our lives into chaos. Just writing this is tugging at every one of my heart strings as I’m in disbelief how quickly everything can change.

I wake up Sunday morning to find that most of our city is underwater. All I can hear on the news is flooding, historic, devastating, and that’s when the real fear kicks in. As I look around at my family’s faces, I’m not sure if I should cry or smile. I’m lucky to be surrounded by my loved ones in our safe, dry home but I have no clue in what conditions my friends are in. To make matters worse, Harvey is continuing to bash us as the rain gives us no mercy for the next few days. A  total of 14.5 trillions of water now consumed Houston. Imagine the Empire State Building standing more than a hundred stories tall. Now fill that up with water 33,000 times and imagine dumping it along the Texas coast. Now do you understand the extent of the flooding and storm?

I am so thankful for the safety of the people I love and have never appreciated them so much in my life. This storm made me realize that there are so many things we take for granted. I don’t think I’ve missed my normal schedule this much. I miss the hot Texas sun kissing my skin. I miss complaining about traffic or plans being ruined. I miss grocery stores that were fully stocked and lines that took no longer than five minutes. I miss my city and the normalcy we lost. There are updates on every social media outlet and families crying for help everywhere. Imagine getting on your Facebook and seeing families post statuses asking to send help and tagging local stations to be saved from the flood waters. More than anything, it makes you truly realize how material belongings can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye.  At the end of the day, it’s those who hold a place in our hearts for whom we will feel the most thankful.

[Read More: #WeDoBelongHere: My Immigrant Husband and Parents Are Just as American as Me]

Through all this devastation around us, the only thing that has warmed our hearts is each other. I can’t express how proud I am to live in this beautiful city and state. A state where people assume we are racists, shotgun-carrying, horse-riding crazy folks. We as Texans have stepped up to help our neighbors regardless of background, race, or religion. People grabbing their boats and big cars as they run to every person yelling for help. This is my Texas that I am so proud of. We have shown not only this country but the world what a combined effort can do. People risking their lives to help others before the government even stepped in. No one asking you any questions, but simply coming to aid those in need. Shelters are overflowing with donations and volunteers, so much so that they have actually had to turn people away. It just fills my heart up with warmth and love to see everyone helping in any way they can. For those who couldn’t leave the house, they still found ways to donate and help others.

We as Texans have been assigned this mountain to show the world how it can be moved. We have taken our burdens and struggles to create strength, kindness, and love. We have embraced the uncertainty, rafted through the waters, and enjoyed the beauty of humanity. The sun has come out for the first time in days and has greeted everyone as the beam of hope we were all holding on to. As it kisses my skin, I have never been so thankful and wishful for the colorful Texas sun to return.

We will not only tell our children and grandchildren of this storm but how our neighbors have lent their hands to pick us up from drowning. When you turn on the news or go to your social media outlets, it’s hard to escape the devastation and horror that has swept our beautiful city and state. However, it makes me so proud to see that shelters have had to refuse volunteers and donations because they have reached a capacity. Even today, people are scrambling over themselves trying to find places to volunteer. Thank you, Texas, especially Houston, for showing the world how beautiful our souls are. I’ve always been thankful and proud to be from the Lone Star State, but our pride will be even stronger once our boots are dry. The stars at night have and will always shine big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.

If you would like to help or donate please check out the links below.

Help Houston

JJ Watt Houston Flood Relief Fund

Find shelters and services with needs here: https://goo.gl/TYxV3J

Also, check the Houston Food Bank calendar for volunteer shifts you can sign up for.

By Momotaz Rahman

Momotaz Rahman is a proud Texan Bengali. While the sun is out she is a marketing coordinator with a love … Read more ›