F*ck you, Harvey

I’m safe, my friends and family are safe. My parents are now in a mandatory evacuation area, but otherwise so far so good. Hopefully it stays that way.

I’ve been extremely lucky during this storm. I’ve had some street flooding, but none of it entered my home and I never lost power or running water. I was supposed to go in to work over the weekend, but once the storm started coming down, I couldn’t have made it in if I tried. The Texas Medical Center became entirely inaccessible. Most of the city was entirely inaccessible.

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Many of my co-workers at the hospital I work at ended up stuck and became the ride out team, unable to go home for days. Thankfully they’ve finally been able to go home, and I’ve been called back into work.

The thing that pisses me off more than this storm? The way the news outlets spent more time ridiculing us for staying put. I noticed almost all of the ridiculous articles that focused on mayor Turner’s decision not to evacuate (I’m looking at you, CNN) didn’t speak to a single person who was from Houston to give commentary. Guess what? A vast majority of us Houstonians feel like he made the right call. I originally had a long profanity-laced rant about this, but for the sake of time I’ll let this twitter thread speak for me (click to read the whole thing):

Mayor Turner has been calm, collected, and cautiously warning us that just because the sun has finally come out it wasn’t time to be unwise. Long story short, he couldn’t save everyone, but he very damn well saved thousands of us. Don’t you dare talk shit about this until it’s over.

The coverage is starting to look more positive now that the storm has passed, but it was extremely frustrating to see our own local news anchors working nonstop to keep us informed (and in many ways, alive), while the national coverage seemed to be focusing more on why we were told to stay put. What should have been the focus was the incredible amount of good that happened during this time. When 911 was overwhelmed, regular citizens who owned boats went out and took it upon themselves to rescue people from their flooded homes. There was no city-wide statement asking anyone to help, people just did it. When some bakers were trapped in their bakery for two days, they passed the time by baking loads of pan dulce to give to flood victims once they got out. A local furniture salesman who is usually known more for his tacky commercials opened up his stores to shelter people who had lost their homes, and sent out his delivery trucks to pick people up from their homes to transport them. (side note: Gallery Furniture stores are also by far the cushiest shelters in town right now, with people sleeping on high-end mattresses instead of cots) Our local Texas grocery store chain HEB sent out emergency convoys as soon as the storm hit the southern coastal parts of Texas and started providing food and supplies for those in need. When the George R. Brown Convention Center opened itself up as a shelter, there was a line DOWN THE STREET of volunteers ready to help out. When I tried shopping for donation items after I had cleared out everything I already had in my house, the store shelves were already sold out of all of the items that were listed as needed items. The George R. Brown Convention Center (which is a HUGE facility) had so many donations that they had to start collecting at ANOTHER large stadium, and even that got filled up overnight. OVERNIGHT.  There’s so much love and willingness to help each other in this city. We may have been under water, but we will not drown.

The rain has stopped, but the recovery is going to be a long process. Please keep Houston in your thoughts, but please don’t forget about the southern coastal towns like Rockport and Port Aransas who were hit so much harder than Houston from the get-go and are also desperately in need of help.

HOW TO HELP:

J.J. Watt, our resident nice-guy Texans player started a fund and it’s become an insane and amazing celebrity bidding war to see who can donate the most. You can contribute your part here.

And here’s (9/5: edited to an updated link from NPR) a good list of charities to donate to, spanning across relief funds, to additional funds for first responders, etc. And remember that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being cautious before donating. When in doubt, check any charities that you plan on donating to on Charity Navigator.

If you’re local, here’s a list of shelters that you can volunteer at or donate supplies. As of the time of writing this (8/31), George R. Brown Convention Center, BBVA Compass Stadium, NRG Park, and Salvation Army are at capacity with donations (within DAYS of opening!), but they still could use volunteers! FYI: if you’re volunteering as a medical professional at George R. Brown or NRG Park you can go to the front of the volunteer line and tell them you’re a medical volunteer (I showed them my work badge) and they’ll let you in.

Houston isn’t an easy city to love. It doesn’t have the immediate glitz or glamour of New York or LA. Even as a local I wouldn’t recommend it as a vacation spot. But it’s a FANTASTIC place to live. Things won’t come to you in Houston, you’ll have to do some work to seek out everything that’s great about this place. But once you find your place in this city, it loves you back tenfold, and a large majority of that is because of all the amazing people we have here. Hang in there, everyone. The bumpy road to recovery has just begun, but we’ve got each other and we’re going to make it. <3

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