Not In My House, Harvey

You came in with a heavy fist and you tried to smash us. You broke our buildings with your winds, you smashed our boats and ripped off our roofs. You brought the waves over our sea walls and spread debris over our beaches. But you know what? We’re already rebuilding.

Not in my house, Harvey.

You brought your thunder, your lightning and your tornadoes. You made our alarms blare and our children hide in closets. You took our sleep and comfort with your bands of red, orange and yellow. But you know what? We’re not in closets now. We’re already picking things up.

Not in my house, Harvey.

You dumped trillions of gallons of water on us. You sent floodwaters surging down our streets, into our businesses and through our homes. You made children cling to trees and roof tops, mothers float their babies on air mattresses, and fathers carry belongings in trash bags. You took the homes of our seniors and swept cars off of roadways. But you know what? We’re drying off now.

Not in my house, Harvey.

You made us leave our homes. You made us find shelter elsewhere while we prayed, watched and searched for loved ones. You tried to break our spirit. But you know what? We’re coming back.

Not in my house, Harvey.

We’ve come together. We’ve helped one another. We’ve risked our lives to rescue our neighbors and prayed for strangers. We’ve cried our tears, mourned our homes, and we’re picking ourselves back up. We’re holding our hands out to one another. We’re giving our things to our community. We’re giving our hands and our time.

Not in my house, Harvey.

I’ve seen people come from miles away with their boats and their skills. I’ve seen teenagers beg for opportunities to help. I’ve seen women cooking for first responders and displaced friends and family. I’ve seen strangers giving rides to evacuees. I’ve seen people comforting children not their own. I’ve seen shelters prepared with love and warmth in a matter of hours. I’ve seen men standing in the rain with smiles accepting donations of maxi pads for strangers. I’ve seen a parade of police come in from other cities to give our officers some much needed rest. I’ve seen parking lots full of volunteers, families shopping for other families and donations overflowing. I’ve seen friends, family and neighbors cleaning out each others’ houses. I’ve seen social media used as a tool of beauty, help and relief instead of hurt or isolation. I’ve seen relationship. I’ve seen family. I’ve seen the true meaning of community.

Not in my house, Harvey.

You brought your worst. And make no mistake, it was bad. It was terrible, horrifying and tragic. But you know what, you don’t win. We do.

Not in my house, Harvey.

We have a chance right now. We have a moment in time where we can build on the overwhelming love that is flowing in this place. We have an opportunity where we can take these feelings of compassion, of helpfulness, of willingness to listen and share; we can take them and make something amazing. We can be that city on a hill. We can be a light in the darkness that wants to divide us. We can be an example of what it looks like when you truly love. When you truly want the best for your community. We can show the world what it means to be on Team Humanity. Not team left, team right or team skin color. Not team gender, team politics or team religion. We can show what can happen when a group of people comes together and says, No. Not in my house. Take your division, take your hate, take your destruction, and get out. Get out of my house. There’s no place for you here.

How you can help

1. Reach out

Talk to your neighbors, get to know their names, build relationships.

Texas needs your help right now, but honestly, so does America. We’re at a crossroads where we can make a decision. We can keep going the way we have been, walking a path of anger, litigation and distrust. Choosing sides and demonizing our neighbors. Or we can join Team Humanity. We can look at our brothers and sisters as something other than adversaries, and learn their stories and their hearts.

2. If you live in an area that has been touched by Harvey, help your neighbors

Walk the streets of a neighborhood that is trying to rebuild – offer snacks, water, or a strong back. Bring cleaning supplies and tools like work gloves, buckets, boxes, pry bars, hammers, scrapers, heavy duty trash bags, plastic sheets and rubber boots. Pick branches up out of your elderly neighbor’s yard. Cook a meal for someone that has been helping rescue others, or who has been cleaning all day.

3. Write encouraging letters

Bring notes or children’s cards to fire stations, police stations or other responders. Show them what their work means, and let them know that what they do is appreciated.

4. Donate items

People in Texas have been very generous, and our donation centers and shelters are overflowing with items already donated. If you would like to donate goods or services, contact the organizations and find out what they truly need right now. Most commonly asked for are diapers, pull-ups, baby formula, hygiene products and pet supplies. Look at the smaller towns in Texas and Louisiana that were also hit – Rockport, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, Dickinson, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Port Lavaca, etc. They are missing much of the media coverage, but many of them have been devastated by this storm.

5. Give your time to a shelter

Our shelters are packed with people with no home, no belongings, and frequently with no idea what to do next. If you have the time and compassion to do so, volunteer at one of these places to sort clothes, give a listening ear, watch children and give some relief to those who are working there. Many shelters in the area have plenty of volunteers right now, but as people start going back to work the number of helpers is going to dwindle. As a friend of mine said, this is a marathon, not a sprint. If they don’t need you today, chances are good that they will tomorrow.

6. Help find homes

Thousands of people are in search of temporary housing as they try to rebuild their homes. If you have a garage apartment, rental property or have knowledge of apartments that have available units, share that information with your friends or family who may be searching for somewhere to stay.

7. Babysit

There is nothing harder than knowing you have to clean out your home but you have nowhere safe to put your young children while you work. Offer to babysit for those people that can’t afford childcare right now, or whose schools or daycares were destroyed. Be a safe place for those children that are already traumatized by losing their homes, and care for them while their parents try to clean things up.

8. If you want to specifically help Houston or other parts of Texas right now and you can’t be here in person, donate money

Pick a charitable organization of your choice and give to it. JJ Watt has one, Samaritan’s Purse has one, and odds are your local church has one – the list goes on and on and on. People can be amazingly generous, and there are tons of options available. Some people speak badly of the Red Cross because of concern about where your money is actually going, but as someone who has recently witnessed the competence and compassion of Red Cross volunteers, I can honestly say that if your $10 doesn’t go to Houston today, it will surely go somewhere tomorrow that needs it just as desperately. And I’m ok with that.

9. Read to kids who need the distraction

Go to the Facebook group Hurricane Harvey Book Club and upload a video of yourself or one of your children reading a book. Children who have been displaced or who are stuck indoors while roads clear can have some distraction while sharing the joy of reading with others.

10. Pray

Pray for our state, for our cities, for our communities. Pray for our country. Pray for the people who have lost their homes and loved ones. Pray for people who are working tirelessly to help. Pray for all of those who have given and who continue to give. Pray for peace and unity and understanding in our country so that we can be that city on a hill. So that we can be a place that others look to in order to see what it looks like when you truly love your neighbor.

Some helpful links:

These are places you can go to give money, items, or to volunteer. This list is not exhaustive by any means, they are just a few that I have used or am aware of. Many school districts in our region are doing what they can to help the community. If you want to help your immediate area, check with your local school district to see what needs they have.  Schools throughout Harris and Fort Bend Counties have flooded, and districts are working to find places and supplies for the students to use while their regular buildings are being cleaned. Many area churches have also set up relief funds and shelters for the parts of town they serve. Check your local church websites for donation and volunteer information.

Focus on the Family and Convoy of Hope

JJ Watt’s You Caring

The Red Cross  Or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation

Samaritan’s Purse

Klein ISD

Preemptive Love

Mission of Yahweh

Houston Food Bank

As I said, this list is far from complete. If you have one I missed or if you have other ideas for ways to help, please comment to let others know. Harvey finally left Texas, but it’s still not finished with the U.S. It moved through our family in Louisiana, and is currently bringing winds, rain and tornado warnings to our family in Memphis. But you know what, we’re stronger than any storm.

Not in my house, Harvey.

hurricane harvey
Photo Credit KRRC
flooded Houston
Photo Credit ABC13
flood water rescues
Photo Credit ABC13
flood rescues
Photo Credit ABC13
national guard rescuing residents
Photo Credit ABC13

 

Texas Strong
Photo Credit @ChrisCraftUSA

 

pray for TX, pray for Houston

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