Houston, Texas is my hometown, where I was born and lived until three years ago. Needless to say, I’m paying attention to Hurricane Harvey. Some of my family had to evacuate for higher ground, others are dry at home but floods cut them off from the rest of the city. My heart goes out and it may seem strange but I wish I could be there, not just to help but to experience this.
Going through a hurricane is like nothing else. Before and after Hurricane Ike in 2008, we took walks. It was unnaturally quiet yet the people one did meet were very friendly and talkative. The combination of strong silence and greater conviviality is unique. As the winds approach, trees move in ways you never thought they could and the wind echoes all night. After Ike, we had no power for two weeks. My job was a dishwasher for a household of priests; water and gas worked so we carried on, washing dishes by hand by the light of altar candles. I was amazed how quickly things got back on track, both with individuals, trooping out to buy chainsaws and clear the roads, and the city, setting up alternate signaling at broken traffic lights and hauling off debris. Now I see rescuers carrying people of all ages and races to safety, my acquaintances using social media to offer places to stay, vehicles to help.
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There is ugliness too, looters, who reportedly shot at the “Cajun Navy” – Louisianans who came to help. Racists on Twitter encourage these criminals, one saying, “Please only loot white owned stores and stores owned by Trump supporters” and some political cartoons mock the victims as racist hicks. It figures, when shortly before, a man was arrested planting a bomb on the statue of Richard Dowling, a Confederate officer, and the communist group “Antifa” (who were rioting in Berkeley while groups they call fascist were helping hurricane victims) made an effort to destroy the Spirit of the Confederacy statue.
If you want to give alms, it's always best to give directly to people in need rather than to bloated organizations. So here's a Catholic homeschooling family that my family knew, very active in pro-life work, who lost their house to the flooding. Go here to help.