The potential for hurricanes is the price people pay for living along the Gulf Coast. Every hurricane season brings a new threat of devastation, and the summer of 2017 is a prime example of the worst the Gulf of Mexico can bring.
Hurricane Harvey was the first of the 2017 Atlantic season and held nothing back. Record amounts of rain drowned the metropolitan areas of Houston and the surrounding cities all the way to the Louisiana border, with Southeast Texas communities being especially hard hit.
It destroyed thousands of homes and took 70 lives in the U.S. Now, as the recovery process begins, people are banding together to rebuild and restore homes, businesses and lives.
We have had to do this numerous times in just the last 12 years. We’ve cleared the debris wreaked across cities from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008, and have witnessed the relentless Gulf take our homes and our sense of security.
Recovery from a hurricane doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years. Decades. There are still boarded up gas stations abandoned by owners, ominous blue FEMA tarps on vacant homes, and countless trailers in place of where houses used to stand from Rita.
Harvey will join those storms in years to come when survivors recount how they lost their homes to four, five, or six feet of water. The worst part, perhaps, is that so many people are without flood insurance, meaning the reconstruction of their lives is uncertain. No one predicted the massive amounts of rainfall — Beaumont had 43 inches and our neighbors in Orange had 54 inches.
To make matters worse, the high waters disabled water pumps and filtration systems for Beaumont, leaving more than 100,000 residents without potable water. Almost three weeks later many parts of the Golden Triangle are still under several feet of water only accessible by boat.
The only good thing to come out of Harvey so far has been the innumerable amounts of people who have come to Texas from all over the country to help us get back on our feet. That includes the men and women of the U.S. military who have stood in blazing heat to make sure that people got bottled water and food, and the organizations who have been passing out necessities like clothes and toiletries since the storm passed.
While we may be able to take a deep breath now, our neighbors in Florida are cleaning up after Irma, the Caribbean is suffering from Maria and the East Coast is getting the effects of Jose.
As global warming continues, we can expect more frequent and stronger storms.
Hurricane season can be tough, but we have made it through before and we must keep making it through. There have been so many stories as of late regarding the adamant spirit that the residents of Texas have taken in rebuilding after the storm, but in all reality, what else can we do? We have always been resilient and we always will be, so while this may be a dark chapter in our lives, the comeback will be extraordinary.
Story by Olivia Malick, UP staff writer