This week, my heart broke. Houston — the city I grew up in… the city I lived in for the better part of 18 years… was completely devastated by historic flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
I’ve lived through my fair share of tropical storms and hurricanes, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what I saw this past week. Seniors sitting in waist-high water in a retirement home, hoping — praying for help to arrive.
Helpless animals abandoned in cars left in driveways, their owners ill-prepared to escape the flash floods in their neighborhoods.
The unbelievable story of families who were affected and displaced by Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago, only to end up losing everything all over again.
ABC News covered legendary Houston businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale who opened his store’s warehouse to help house those displaced from the storm. “To hell with profits, let’s take care of these people,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
With family in both New Orleans and Houston, I am absolutely thankful that we have lucky twice however, as history has shown, these historic weather events are increasingly becoming a yearly occurrence. We may not be lucky a third time.
Hitting close to home for me, however, was the site of my alma mater Mayde Creek High School. Home to 2,700 students — 52% classified as low-income — Principal Ronnie Edwards shared on his Facebook page that many of them had lost everything.
Personally, I have committed to help purchase items on their Amazon Wish List. They are in need of backpacks, socks, deodorant, pillows, towels, etc. It’s the absolute least I can do being half-way across the country.
Granted, there are other ways to help give back to folks in Houston as well. Probably one of the best ways, is to help our working families through the Texas AFL-CIO Relief Fund. Our unfortunate brothers and sisters there live in a right-to-work state, so they can definitely use the extra help.
Part of what makes this so difficult, is how much of the serious damage and destruction could have been prevented if we — as a society — took climate change a little more seriously. California often leads the way on these issues, and yes, we can and and should strive to be better.
Sadly, many of our elected leaders and policy makers in states like Texas deny the overwhelming existence of such things. They’re often profit-driven by special interests and wealthy developers who covet money and material possessions over mankind.
CNN had an excellent report that covered several reasons of why flooding was so catastrophic, namely urban sprawl, poor land management, and weak rules and regulations — Houston is notorious for having little to no zoning laws. Can you imagine San Diego with no zoning?
The best we can hope for is that this will serve as a wake-up call. However, as I mentioned earlier, the devastation from Hurricane Katrina was 12 years ago. Do you think America has gotten more serious about climate change since then?
“Ram Pride Never Dies” and neither should our resolve to continue this necessary fight on climate change to save our environment, and our planet. Let’s join together and help our fellow Americans begin the long road to recovery. Let’s rebuild. Let’s recharge. Let’s do this.
Houston Strong. In Solidarity.
Vice President for Resource Development
San Diego Democrats for Equality