Our Town

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Where to begin? Normally writing comes so easily to me. My words usually flow like a river, but right now thoughts of real moving water, not words, are occupying my mind. My beloved Houston metropolitan area is under siege. The invader can’t be contained or rendered ineffective, for it is nature whose fury is inflicting painful wounds on the people and the places that I love. The after rains of hurricane Harvey have pounded neighborhood after neighborhood with an intensity that feels unrelenting. Innocent people minding their own business have had everything that they ever owned ripped away by waters that rise without mercy inside their homes. Those of us who have not yet been affected by the floods watch helplessly as our neighbors ride from their water logged homes in boats and on helicopters. Our levels of anxiety rise and fall as the rains start and then stop. We run back and forth to bathrooms and closets each time a tornado warning sounds. All we can do is wait and hope and pray, but the predictions are so dire. Surely we will be fine, or maybe we too will become members of the wet, confused and homeless crowd whose faces break our hearts.

I have lived in Houston, Texas or one of its suburbs for all of my sixty eight years. I have always been so proud to call myself a citizen of this wonderful place. The people here are quite special, friendly and helpful. I overlook the heat and mosquitoes and other irritations because there just isn’t a better place that I have ever found in which to raise a family or live a life. It’s a vibrant and diverse city that is just as comfortable at the opera as at the rodeo. We boast rocket scientists and refinery workers. Everyone regardless of background or ethnicity is a” good ole boy” or “gal.” We love to help those in need, and when New Orleans was devastated by hurricane Katrina we opened our hearts, our homes and our wallets to the people who had suddenly become homeless. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

Now our own city is undergoing an historic flood unlike anything that any of us have ever seen. We have ordinary citizens hauling their fishing boats to areas where our people are trapped by the flood waters. Nobody asked them to stay awake all night long ferrying one group after another to safety. They just understood that this was something they had to do because they are Houstonians. We are the city that rolls up its sleeves and takes care of one another whether or not we get paid or receive praise. We are good kind people which is why we ignore the flatness of the land and the lack of enchanting landscapes. We find beauty in the ribbons of bayous that dot our neighborhoods. We love our gulf which is muddied by the silt from the Mississippi River. We make do with what we have and find the joy in even the ordinariness of life.

I am quite sad today. I see the gashing wound that runs from stem to stern on the place I call home. I worry and wonder when the sun will finally choose to return. I’ll gladly take the sizzling temperatures as long as the skies are blue and there is no longer a threat of deluge on my home and those of my family and friends and neighbors. I pray with every fiber of my being that we have already seen the worst and that the rains will somehow miraculously go away so that we might begin to rebuild the homes and the lives that have been so mistreated by Mother Nature.

I know not what the next couple of days will bring. I desperately want to believe that it will only get better. I am weary of rain and fear. I am ready to rally around my fellow citizens and make my city even more wonderful than before. I wish more than anything to be able to reposition my rose colored glasses, but the whispers of reality make me think thoughts that are not happy at all. I have to be prepared for more horrors. I have to be strong for whatever comes. Still I know that I will be okay mostly because I live in Houston. The people here will not let me down, not even when the night grows dark and new terrors tempt me to lose faith in this glorious city.

This is Houston, the place where I was born and have chosen to be. I don’t have any idea how we will bounce back from this, but I know we will. Until the storm has gone away and the skies clear once again I pray that God will be with us and hold us in the palm of His hand. He knows of our goodness. Surely He will provide.