A Miracle in Texas

In the last days of August 2017, a miracle happened. A category 4 hurricane named Harvey battered Texas and Louisiana, but mostly Texas. It came onshore, with ferocious winds and rain, around Corpus Cristi, its eye-wall made it as far north as Cuero, before being pushed back to the coast by a prevailing high pressure system. It stayed for days. Its winds destroyed buildings, it’s storm surge inundated everything within it. On its eastern side, the wet side, the rains fell. And fell. And fell. All-told, 50 inches of rain fell over huge swaths of Texas over a period of about 3 days. This part of Texas is flat, water does not run off fast. The accumulation of water was all there at the same time. It was said to be an “800 year storm”, meaning a storm this intense should happen about once every 800 years.

How can this be a miracle? It is a miracle because only a few dozen people died. The population in the storm’s path included 11 million people, all on flat ground. A few dozen died. Just let that sink in. Katrina killed upward of 1,800 people. 500 of them will never be identified, even. It was a similarly-sized storm as Harvey. New Orleans had the distinct disadvantage of being significantly below sea level, protected by pumps and levees that failed. Houston too was protected by levees, but it’s levees did not fail. It’s pumps did not fail. (When I use the term “Houston” herein, I am referring to the greater Houston area.) Further, most of Houston’s land is above sea level, which means the natural power of gravity would surely take away the water, regardless of what man did. Let’s put the rainfall amount in scope:

One small problem, though. The rainfall was not 9 trillion gallons, it was 15 trillion gallons. The amount of water that fell was greater than Lake Michigan., in an area about the size of Lake Michigan. Here’s what that looked like on the ground:

It was impossible to get photos of most of the flooded areas simply because there was no way to even get to them while they were still flooded.

The miracle, as you can see, is that people survived this flooding, that ANY people survived this flooding. It is true that a tremendous amount of property damage has occurred, and misery abounds, but people are alive, and grateful to be nothing more than “just alive”, even if they have nothing.

During this storm, in the middle of the storm as it was happening, the heroes in the Texas Navy and Cajun Navy were rescuing tens of thousands of people, even before deputies could get in to help. Calls to 911 went unheeded, but a call to the Cajun Navy was answered with real help — evacuation in some good old boy’s bass boat. These are American heroes.

And, following the impromptu navy, came an army, people that had not lost everything, and wanted to help. And help they did:

This all happened before the city, county, state, and federal governments could barely get geared-up. (And they have performed fantastically, to date.)

I believe this miracle was from God himself, a true miracle. Millions of lives spared. But this miracle was also a man-made planned miracle, and I believe that God himself motivated mankind to prepare himself so that he could survive this storm. The planning was decades in the making. Retention ponds were constructed to hold off rainwater during heavy floods. Harris County is littered with retention ponds everywhere one looks. They hold the rainfall so that it can be slowly released later, instead of flooding into homes and creating havoc. City, county, and state planners worked tirelessly calculating how much retention acre-feet were required, and where. They simulated storms and tested their designs. They designed levees to handle the worst possible storms within reason. This storm far exceeded their design calculations, but the levees and dams, in spite of being topped in some instances, held. God’s hand guided man in his quest to survive and thrive, and God himself stepped in and intervened where man came up short (as he always does).

Everywhere I looked, all I saw was man helping man. There was no regard for politics, race, religion, sexuality, none of that. It was one human life saving another human life, one human life helping another human life. The helping hand extended even to livestock, as cattle were driven through towns to get to higher ground, and dogs and cats were rescued alongside their owners.

This is the greatest example of God’s desire for humanity that I have ever witnessed in my life. Exactly as God wants us to behave every single day, even when great tragedy is upon us. He wants us all to be everyday heroes. Hurricane Harvey is proof that we have the ability inside of each of us to meet this challenge.

Houston was once a farming community and a cow town. It sprung up in large part because of another hurricane — the great storm of 1900, that obliterated Galveston. It then became an oil town and eventually the seat of mankind’s manned exploration of the universe. It has never been a glitzy place. It has always been somewhat of a humble place. No Golden Gate Bridge, no Disney Theme Park, no Hollywood studios, no world-record sky-scrapers, none of that. But what Houston always has been is a place to work, a place to make a living, and a place to grow a family. It’s a place to mow and then water your lawn in the suburbs (even though no one is going to run any water outside anytime soon). Houston is a town in Texas, and her population sports all of the greatest human traits that Texans expect from one another.

It’s now the location of one of the world’s greatest miracles, and you can witness this miracle yourself, simply by hopping on a plane and flying here, and seeing all the beautiful, smart, loving, kind, wonderful people. I always dreamed of living somewhere else — New York, Honolulu, or San Diego, but now I know firmly in my heart Houston is my home. It always will be. My smiling happy neighbors, the people I meet at the grocery store, and the people I work with, represent something much more that mere acquaintances. They, and I, are a distinct culture now. We always were a distinct culture by mere virtue of being Texans, and we knew that, but now, there is something even deeper connecting us.

Houston is a miracle, and you can witness it yourself. All you have to do is hop that plane. Each person you meet here is a miracle today. They are not in graves. That is the miracle, a million times over. They are vital and thriving. They are living life the right way. They are Texans. I believe God is smiling on Texans today — he threw us a spit-ball, and we hit it out of the park.