Hi from Houston. Let’s do a quick check-in.
The place where I live took in about two inches of water, just enough to destroy the floors and baseboards, but other than a couple of leaks in my bathroom ceiling, there is no other evident damage. The floodwaters themselves covered the street and the front yard and came up over the porch to the door, so we couldn’t leave the house for several days. However, we miraculously never lost power, and we were well-stocked in the non-perishable department, so we were and continue to be okay.
The apartment I sublet to a friend of mine is located in one of the few areas of the city that somehow didn’t flood, so while neither one of us has been able to get over there to inspect it, we’re hoping for the best. My parents (who live in town) are safe and dry, as is their home. Many of my friends made it through the storm without incident, and all of them are accounted for.
My car ended up about halfway underwater and is inoperable, and the office where I work during the day is closed “until further notice.” But the Forge is still standing, so at the very least I am somewhat employed, and for that I am extremely grateful.
In the midst of the whole disaster, I didn’t really pay attention to what anyone outside of Texas was saying about the hurricane or its aftermath, assuming it was all thoughts and prayers or whatever. But then I noticed the following comment on a friend’s Facebook timeline, and I realized that not everyone across our great nation was impressed with Houston’s resilience and can-do spirit:
I find it difficult to sympathize with people who saw a “historic” storm headed their way and chose to stay put. Pure stupidity!
Far more talented writers than I have composed thoughtful, eloquent articles detailing the mechanics of Houston’s extensive bayou and retention systems, and the impossibilities of safely evacuating 6.5 million residents (the most thorough of which can be found here), and I applaud those authors. I myself am neither thoughtful nor eloquent, but if no one objects, I’d like to go ahead and throw in my own $0.02 on the subject.
Here’s the thing, Cameron From Idaho. It’s not that you “find it difficult to sympathize”: it’s that you don’t care, but on some level you feel bad that you don’t care, so you need it to be somebody else’s fault that you don’t care, which is where we Houstonians come into play. And you know what? It’s okay. Really. We all have uncomfortable feelings bubble up sometimes — it’s like the time a friend called me to tell me his partner left him, and all I could think was, “I’ve never really enjoyed your company.”
The point, Cam, is that there are people who do care, and those people are literally saving lives right now, so the pressure is totally off of you. You can rest easy knowing that your dissonant yet self-indulgent lack of compassion has no impact whatsoever on the victims of Harvey, and you can go back to doing whatever it is you do best… which, from what I can tell, is judging people on the Internet from the safety of your parents’ basement.
We don’t have a lot of basements in Houston, on account of they tend to, y’know, flood. But I hear they’re cozy. So stay safe and warm down there, Cameroonie! I’ll bet it’ll make an excellent shelter during whichever force of nature demolishes your hometown every decade or so.
Anyway, back to my hometown. For those who want to help, some of the Misfits are raising money for the American Red Cross, and the Forge is raising money for the Houston Food Bank. You can donate to the Montrose Center, which has started an LGBTQ disaster relief fund, or, if you’re in the area and want to do something in person, you can find a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities here.
As bleak as the situation seems, there is no doubt we’re going to get through it. And regardless of what you are or aren’t individually able to do, just knowing that most of the country is rooting for us is pretty awesome in and of itself.
So thank you for that. Thank you for caring. I promise that everything up to and including kind words is beyond appreciated. I promise it’s making a difference.
ETA: I came across this video after watching a tropical storm eat my car, and it gave me a little hope during a moment of insane powerlessness. Just wanted to pass along the encouragement.