Hurricane Harvey

My hometown of Houston has been completely devastated by the latest hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast. The heartbreaking images of all the many families who have lost their homes and all their possessions, familiar landmarks under feet of flood water, stranded animals searching desperately for higher ground all fill me with sadness and hopelessness.

The Bayou City is no stranger to natural phenomena, from droughts, annual flooding from heaven season thunderstorms, hot summer days, and even mass amounts of pesky mosquitos, Houstonians are a tough and resilient group of people. We are accustomed to dealing with tropical storms and hurricanes. We revel in how we were able to bounce back after Rita and Ike. This time, things went differently. Harvey exceeded our worst fears.

Nature can be terrifyingly destructive.

The development of this storm from a tropical storm to Category 4 hurricane was an eery foreshadowing of the damage Harvey was sure to inflict. Watching from the safety of my Irish home, the sheer size of the storm as it approached the Texas coast terrified me.

The name “Harvey” holds significant meaning. Derived from the French name Herve, Harvey means “battle worthy” or “battle warrior.” Though one would commonly picture a man with the name to be a laid-back, Hawaiian shirt clad, middle-aged dude you’d like to share a beer and a chat with, Hurricane Harvey lived up to the combative nature of the moniker. The storm battled the Texas coastline, leaving cities devastated in his wake.

Symbolically, natural disasters do carry a lot of metaphysical meaning. As hurricanes are essentially a cyclone of low-pressure and high speed winds, the winds reflect uncontrollable forces, a sense of unpredictability and instability. Because of the utter power, size, unpredictability, and ability to inflict mass destruction, hurricanes remind us of the unmatched power of nature. Nature can seem cruel and senseless. Traumatic natural disasters never take into account the toll on human life, the pain left in the aftermath.

Besides the wind, Harvey brought an incomparable amount of rainfall. The rain levels Houston experienced was record-breaking. For a large, heavily populated urban area, surrounded by bayous and ravines, flooding was imminent. This storm has literally created havoc, environmental destruction. The flood waters still remain, having transformed city streets into urban canal-like waterways. Metaphysically, water represents the flow of the collective mind – the collective unconscious. Seems poignant that one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas would suffer such terrible flooding during such a tumultuous social and political time. The battle of political ideologies and the subsequent social battles of race, sexual-orientation, gender, and so on have been plaguing the nation for many months now.

For me, the arrival of this disaster during such a contentious political time symbolizes the unchecked feelings, emotions, hatred which had accumulated and had to be released- even in such a horrific way. Harvey dumping trillions of gallons of rain water metaphysically signify the pain the American people have been carrying within. As water is used for baptismal ceremonies, the heavy rain seems to have been a means of washing away the dark, toxic energy that the American people have been subject to given the recent combative political climate.

{Human}Nature can be astonishingly beautiful.

Amid the damage, destruction, and heartbreak left in Harvey’s aftermath, scenes of unparalleled kindness and goodwill reflect the true human spirit of Houston. Everyone has answered the call to help their neighbors, to lend a helping hand, to volunteer, to donate. The way everyone has come together is remarkable. The true acts of kindness and heroism displayed truly showcase the unbreakable connection Houstonians share for each other.

The positive message to learn from this event is that the human spirit can overcome. We can find hope in even the most dire situations. It’s heartwarming to know that the recent headlines are those of people helping one another, not deranged individuals spouting their hateful rhetoric trying to divide us.

I am proud to call Houston my hometown. I am grateful for the love and support Houstonians have shown throughout this trying time. I have faith that everyone will come together and work towards a brighter, compassionate future.