The devastation from hurricane Harvey along the Texas coast — and, indeed, 70 miles plus inland — cannot be overstated as officials now warn that 30,000 people may be forced from their homes due to flooding.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said during a Monday morning briefing in Washington. “Harvey is still a dangerous and historic storm.”
Fears also grew beyond Texas, where the floodwater pounding this city and others was measured in feet, not inches. President Trump on Monday declared “emergency conditions” in Louisiana, where forecasts have called for as much as two feet of rainfall in some areas.
This is biblical proportion devastation, with the area affected comparable to Lake Michigan, and the amount of rain said to be a weather event that happens only once a millennium.
And of course, along with the anguish, there are tales of heroism that can make even the saltiest cynic shed a tear. First responders, citizens and journalists have been working overtime to save the vulnerable, including children, the elderly and pets (just give a glance at the hashtag #HoustonStrong on twitter if you need a reminder that the world still is a decent place). It’s a strange fact of tragedy that it brings out the absolute best in people.
But amidst the glorious heroics, something else has been illustrated that is less marvelous but quite practical to be aware of going forward. It can be summarized in a tweet from someone blaming President Trump for citizens being “forced” to help their neighbors in Harvey’s aftermath, and a response to that tweet:
THIS is life under Trump; Galveston authorities r asking private untrained citizens w flat bottom boats to assist w rescues. God help us all
— J (@Womenspeakup) August 27, 2017
Good. Us Texans know what we are doing to help our neighbors. I feel sorry for the rest of you that don't. https://t.co/93xilNMjHw
— Obi Wine Kenobi (@KimMarcumTexas) August 28, 2017
The approach to civic responsibility here highlights the extreme difference between the political right and left in this country. Possibly even more than juxtaposing the response to Harvey in Texas to the newest Antifa protests happening simultaneously in Berkley.
The left actually needs someone to blame for the good citizens of the country, of their own volition — particularly fellow Texans and neighbors from Louisiana — helping out those who need it after the the devastation of a cat 4 hurricane hitting land and churning in place over a few days. They believe that authorities asking citizens to help is somehow a burden on those citizens and a glaring insight into the incompetence of government.
And yet, as the lefty tweet proves, they clearly also believe government can do the job better than untrained citizens. In fact, those untrained citizens, and indeed, all of us, need help from God to manage the circumstances that demand civic responsibility. It boggles the mind.
In short, those who enjoy the growing scope of the government don’t trust neighborliness, preferring the same government they repeatedly slam as incompetent to strap on a cape and save the day. Why should it be the responsibility of neighbors to help each other out?, they wonder. I’m not sure I can unpack at the moment just how loaded that particular difference between political ideologies actually is — I’m going to need more time to think about it — but it’s stark and it’s confusing and it keeps the left horrified by acts of kindness rather than humbled and grateful.
God help us all, indeed.