By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
It’s been a tough week for a lot of Texans. With Hurricane Harvey making its slow approach towards the Texas coast last week, we here in the Laguna Madre began making our storm preparations. So, too, did our brothers and sisters to the north.
It wasn’t a very organized storm at first, as it idled in the Gulf of Mexico with no discernible shape, but slowly, meteorologist after meteorologist began making conservative — but very concerning — forecasts.
It’s going to gather strength from the overly warm Gulf waters, they said.
It’s going to make landfall and then sit, they said.
It’s going to be a historic flood event. Lives are going to change, they said.
I remember one local TV meteorologist explaining to the audience how he and his colleagues generally guesstimate rainfall totals for tropical cyclones. You take the speed of the storm, he said and use it to divide from 100. If the storm is moving 10 mph, then 100 divided by 10 equals 10. So you could very probably expect 10 inches of rain.
Fifty inches of rain would break local rainfall records, he said. At that point, Harvey was crawling across the Gulf, barely more than 1 mph. Following the math he had just illustrated, the meteorologist said that would be 100 inches. Then he caught himself, shocked by the reality of what such an astronomical number would mean for Texas.
In the end, Harvey didn’t dump 100 inches of rain, but its effect has been catastrophic and nearly unfathomable nonetheless. Almost 52 inches of rain fell, dumping 21 trillion gallons of water over Houston, according to a report published by Vox on Wednesday.
That’s trillion with a T.
To put that in perspective, Hurricane Katrina dumped 6.5 trillion gallons of water over New Orleans and Louisiana. Harvey produced over three times that amount of precipitation.
No matter which way you slice it, it’s incredible — in all the most negative definitions of that word. But something else has been incredible, too. Incredible in all the most positive, generous and life affirming definitions of the word. And that something has been the way Texas has responded.
Even as the rains continued to fall early this week, Texans began to mobilize — organizing relief drives, crowdsourcing the use of flat-bottomed boats, gathering supplies. Soon, our neighbors in Louisiana joined in, too. Without hesitation people from across the state and from all walks of life converged on the beleaguered Bayou City with only one thing on their minds: helping.
And help they have. Thousands of people have been rescued thanks to the tireless work of our first responders and the generosity of our beloved fellow Texans. I had the good fortune to be able to speak with several people who chose to make the trip. Overwhelmingly, their response to the question, “Why are you going?” has been because it’s the right thing to do. Because it could have just as easily been us in need of help, and they’d hope our neighbors would do the same.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m very vocal about my love for Texas. I thought I already knew how much I loved this place and its people, but this week has shown me how amazing Texas and Texans really are. To all you folks who have stood up to help, in big ways and small, I offer you my sincerest thanks.
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