Harvey: Waltzing with the Blood Dazzler

Sometimes, words don’t exist to describe the depth of human suffering and heartache, as is the case with the devastation in Texas right now.

Texas, my home, my identity – Texan. I’ve lived here my whole life and never witnessed such catastrophe in the flesh, and I am fortunate, even now.  I type this from a dry home, when an unfathomable number of humans within a small radius from me no longer have the resources to do the same. The sound of choppers en route to rescue others resonates through my living room (which I’m lucky to still have). The worst that has happened to me – I lost power. The worst that has happened to others – they lost homes, belongings, lives. I am not a victim here, but I am a member of a community that is restoring my faith in humanity. Hurricane Harvey may have harmed us, but it has also hardened and heartened Houston, Texas.

I’ve had Patricia Smith’s words ringing through my head the past few days:

Hurricanes, 2005

“Arlene learned to dance backwards in heels that were too high.
Bret prayed for a shaggy mustache made of mud and hair.
Cindy just couldn’t keep her windy legs together.
Dennis never learned to swim.
Emily whispered her gusts into a thousand skins.
Franklin, farsighted and anxious, bumbled villages.
Gert spat her matronly name against a city’s flat face.
Harvey hurled a wailing child high.
Irene, the baby girl, threw pounding tantrums.
José liked the whip sound of slapping.
Lee just craved the whip.
Maria’s thunder skirts flew high when she danced.
Nate was mannered and practical. He stormed precisely.
Ophelia nibbled weirdly on the tips of depressions.
Philippe slept too late, flailing on a wronged ocean.
Rita was a vicious flirt. She woke Philippe with rumors.
Stan was born business, a gobbler of steel.
Tammy crooned country, getting the words all wrong.
Vince died before anyone could remember his name.
Wilma opened her maw wide, flashing rot.

None of them talked about Katrina.
She was their odd sister,
the blood dazzler.”

And now there is Harvey, who waltzes with the blood dazzler, both spinning turmoil and devastation, humbling humanity with the sheer wrath of mother nature.

But – from the depth of despair, heroes have emerged from all corners, and I’m not only referring to those who took a badge and an oath to protect society from harm, though they are out there as well, risking life and limb. Humans – Texans – have loaded up the lifted trucks they are all-too-often made fun of for driving (guilty as charged, over here. Sorry!), hauled their boats to all corners, and rescued those in need, regardless of race, creed, or culture. Those who can’t get to the victims are rallying to help others by donating their belongings, volunteering in shelters, opening their homes to strangers. Segregation has been washed away by the storm; love has floated to the surface.

We still have hard days in front of us – it’s still raining outside of my window. Homes are still flooding. People are still dying. Things will never be the same as they were before –

But hope is alive in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey cannot wash away our hope.


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