It’s Always Someone’s Backyard

Hopefully, by the time you read this, Hurricane Harvey and the devastation that it caused in southeastern Texas will be old news and cleanup will have been quick, the death toll low, and the fallout – both literal and figurative – minimal.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Down here, we get hurricanes. Not every year, but often enough to remind us how powerful Mother Nature is and to further remind us all that there is always a bigger fish. As I sit here writing this, I’m waiting on the phone to ring and from it, my direct-report will provide some specifics on what I’ll be doing with the post-Harvey cleanup. Even though it is half a continent away, inevitably, when a big storm hits, the guys that keep the lights on get called and the men and women of Search and Rescue teams around the world wait for the calls to come.

So I’ve got my usual go-bag sitting by the door, a few cases of water in the truck, and when FEMA finally gets everything sorted out, I’ll be on the road to Houston or, more likely, Corpus Christi. If it’s like the other big storms I’ve been called to work, there will be 24 hour days, the stench of sewage and decomposition, and the same lost look on the faces of those who have lost everything in a storm that barely existed a week before.

It will look more like Columbia or Haiti than the first world, and the repercussions of the storm will echo in millions of lives for many years – long after the spike in gas prices has gone down.

Can you make a difference? Yes, actually, you can. Right now, in your house, you have things that you’re never going to use again. Clothes, blankets, access to clean water. Think about how those who have lost everything and have watched their homes disappear under the floodwaters must feel.

Walk through your home and see the reminders of the life you live, and now imagine that those things are gone – how do you recover?

Last year, the fires in northern Alberta did this to others in our community. My home withstood the devastation of Hurricane Matthew last fall, and today, millions of residents in south Texas are struggling.

All this at a time when Canada and the United States find themselves struggling internally about politics and “whose side” people are on.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if the people I’m going to help in Texas in a few hours are black, or white, legal or illegal – they are all people. The last time they got up out of their beds, they undoubtedly didn’t think they would never lay down in them again, but Harvey happened. If you can, give something of yourself to help them – your time, your supplies, or give the organizations that will help those affected by Harvey the tools they need to help out Houston and the entire region.

The freedom we all enjoy from the back of the bike is the same freedom you feel in your home. Now imagine losing that – not to a man, but to a force so powerful that you cannot ever hope to control it.

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