As we in the Augusta area debate where to put a sparkling new arena, and what if anything to do with a monument to our Civil War dead, folks in Texas are battling to survive and seeing their homes and possessions wash away.
Kind of gives you a little perspective, doesn’t it?
Calling Harvey a hurricane doesn’t do it justice. It’s a heartless, historic, multi-pronged force of nature, whose torrential rains are still tormenting Texas nearly a week later.
Stunning images of overhead highway signs and traffic lights being submerged are only glimpses of the creeping devastation that is still being wrought.
It’s truly unimaginable, except perhaps by Hollywood – which would still require computer-generated images to create such calamity.
What the Associated Press is already calling “one of the heaviest downpours in U.S. history” is nothing short of a tsunami – coming one relentless drop, drop, drop at a time.
Until the past few days, the death toll was astoundingly low, only several known deaths. But the body count has started ticking upward, and we’ll only know the real toll once the waters ebb.
All along, rescue workers have been toiling day and night, risking everything to rescue everyone. How many more might have perished without them – and without days of warnings by forecasters and officials?
Here’s a clue: The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 – also a Category 4 storm, but coming in the days before sophisticated, accurate and relied-upon forecasting – killed from 6,000 to 12,000 people.
Even in an age blessed by increasingly advanced computer-aided forecasting, it’s a titanic struggle to save lives when nature stirs so angrily.
Yet, if we can’t stand up to nature we can sure as heck stand together. These are the times that test our humanity – and, blessed be God, we are rarely found wanting. From governments to nonprofits to churches and individuals and families, Americans rise up for each other at our lowest moments.
Across Georgia and South Carolina, volunteers and volunteer emergency response professionals have already begun deploying to Louisiana and Texas. In Augusta, the local American Red Cross office has dispatched some five dozen volunteers, and Gold Cross Emergency Medical Service has sent a “highly trained Strike Team” to aid in rescue efforts in Texas.
“We are sending two ambulances and one first responder vehicle, along with nine EMTs and paramedics to help with rescue efforts,” a Gold Cross spokesman told us Monday. And, in fact, the team arrived at the FEMA staging area in Arlington, Texas, at 5 p.m. Monday.
“They are hitting the ground running,” Gold Cross CEO Vince Brogdon told us.
Other Augustans are mobilizing in place – with such caring efforts as a clothing drive at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center and a monetary contribution collection at Abilene Baptist Church to be forwarded to the Georgia Baptist Convention (myabilene.org/give).
It’s what we do, as Augustans and Americans. The current political climate may be stretched to the breaking point, but in the end we are family.
And right now, we are indescribably blessed to be able to help out our fellow countrymen.