Harvey, you can leave now.

Picture taken 12:30am Saturday during first day of heavy rain. Captured during a flash of lightning. Clear Lake received 20+ inches that evening.

As I write this, yet another band of heavy rain is hitting the Clear Lake City area of Houston.  Harvey has been a storm of historic portions.  It will likely go down in the history books as one of the costliest and most damaging storms ever recorded.  Knowing that I lived through it along with millions of other Houstonians is both sobering and fascinating.  Sobering in knowing that just 3-4 miles north of where I live, families are still being rescued via boats from houses with feet, not inches, of water inside of them.  Fascinating in that the boats are largely owned by everyday citizens who came to help their neighbors.

In my previous post, I wrote about the “human goodness” that shows when disasters strike.  I made the argument why does it only have to show up during catastrophic events like Harvey?  I do hope that the goodness continues.  Houstonians and Texans step up to help their fellow Texans.  I would say this is very true.  Today, there was an nice short story about a huge earth mover truck being used to load people from one flooded neighborhood.  The news showed the truck just as it was about to unload.  Once it did, you saw families who were diverse.  Those helping unload the truck were officers from another area than the one the rescue was occurring.  When the reporter asked if the driver would  be interested in being interviewed, one of the responders said that he  didn’t speak English.  This image to me was a microcosm of Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the nation.

We will have days, weeks, months, and dare I say, years to recover.  Houston has a lot to fix, but we will bounce back.  As awful as the past few days have been, Houstonians have shared experience that no one has experienced.  On top of this, the experience was mostly shared on social media.  If you were in the middle of the storm like I was during the first night, text messages and things like Facebook was your connection to know what was happening and for others to make sure all was okay (or not).  For those outside of Houston, you share our pain.  You cried when you saw senior citizens and young children emerge from the floodwaters.  You even got the “feels” when you saw examples of humans helping humans (my favorite was the person who shared her large porch to individuals being unloaded from rescue boats, which soon became a mini-community center that included cookies and coffee!).  Houston, I hope, will be remembered for what a large urban city can be – a diverse, helpful, caring community of neighbors.

Our new sense of shared community will be tested once this is over.  Hurricane Ike in 2008 gave a preview of this idea.  Years after, I believe that some positive impact was made on Houston. Living here after, I feel that I know my neighbors better and as Harvey showed, we stepped up to the plate quickly when someone said, “please help”.  Positive change was seen and I personally think those that remembered and lived through Ike knew that it was time to take care of this great place we call Houston.

If you read to the end of this post, I would like you to consider donating to the fundraising effort by Houston Texan player J.J. Watt.  I’m a big fan of J.J. , not just for his awesome gift to take down a quarterback, but for his genuine love for the city of Houston.  If you are not from the area, you likely do not know all the extra community service he does off-season.  He’s a good guy with a big heart.  You can read about his fundraiser by going to YouCaring.com/JJWatt 

Goodness needs to keep going.  Again, as I type this more rain is falling.  We don’t need more rain.  As one of my college friends stated earlier today, “I used to like the sound of falling rain.”

I agree.  Falling rain will forever make millions of Houstonians sad, scared, and wondering what will be next.

Only answer I can think of is onward.

Now more than ever.

Human Goodness is Here: A Quick Reflection from Hurricane Harvey

Every Saturday morning since July, I have a regular routine of waking up  before 6am. While most folks will see this as an ungodly hour to wake up on a Saturday, most runners see it as a start of the day where you know you will be challenged by your weekly scheduled long run.  One of the things I enjoy about doing a long run (and I truly mean this) with my running club is the post-run camaraderie and support received after pushing yourself physically and mentally in completing a goal.  For most, it isn’t necessarily the miles completed I assume, but the sense that you are surrounded by others who validate your weekly accomplishment and encourage to keep going into the next week.  As runners we are there to keep the motivation going and to let others know that no matter what pace or distance, you are valued among the club.

This morning my scheduled Saturday long run with Bay Area Fit was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey.  While at the current time as I’m writing this we haven’t encountered hurricane winds like our neighbors to the south of us, we have received a good amount of rain that continues to fall, torrential rain at times.  My usual Saturday feeling of accomplishment has been postponed until next week hopefully.  Despite missing my run for obviously good reasons, I noticed something made me reflect on human nature, especially when we notice when others are challenged and facing a difficult event.

On Friday evening, Hurricane Harvey was making landfall in Rockport, Texas, as a Category 4 storm around 9:45pm.  About an hour or so before landfall, a remarkable thing occurred that made me take notice.  Friends from all around the U.S. were checking in making sure my wife and I were doing well.  In this age of social media, you clearly get a sense of the care and concern of friends and family from around the globe.  On Facebook, a good number of folx responded to my (sometimes silly) weather updates.  Once the storm made landfall, this is where I started to notice that the connections started transitioning from quick “likes” on Facebook and Instagram into more personal text messages asking for status updates and responses.  At one moment of time, the text messages were coming in at a pace which made me feel like what I feel at the end of my Saturday morning long runs with my club.

Storms & Human Nature

My “brother from another mother” and best friend from Indiana University was one individual who texted to make sure we were well.  When I read his text, I noticed that he sent it around 1am his time on the East Coast.  Early this morning  I responded back to let him know that all was okay.  Almost immediately, he responded back in his usual sarcastic tone (it’s our way of preferred communication, which makes us great friends!).  After a few back and forths, he could sense that we were fine.  In my last text message, I told him that I really appreciated the time  he took to check in on us.

When natural disasters hit, my eternal optimistic self believes that human nature and goodness can arise.  Think about it, we all have it.  As a person who tries to see everyone as basically good, with some going beyond than minimal levels, I feel that when we as a community are challenged, we pull each other through as one community.  If you do not otherwise, then in my opinion, you are consciously blocking the human goodness that you have.

My running club is a good example of positive goodness.  Members of the club come from all walks of life.  We are a very diverse group in many ways from what I observe.  When Saturday early morning comes, we support each other as runners facing a weekly challenge.  We encourage each other and during the actual run, we wave or say “looking good!” to each other.  Afterwards, we high-five, fist-bump, and say “good run!” as we  do our cool down.  One thing has us connected and that is we completed our scheduled miles and crossed the finish line.  Training helps but I firmly believe that the main purpose of my running club has a mental aspect – to provide a sense of belonging into a community.

Storms like Hurricane Harvey thankfully do not occur often but once they do, our human goodness comes into play for many.  We send thoughts of safety to those in the path.  We call or text our friends to check on their safety and well-being.  We use social media to help spread updates, to let others know we’re “safe”, and sometimes to encourage a laugh in the face of difficulty.  All of these actions tap into our human goodness.

I’m an optimist. Unfortunately, natural disasters tend to be one of the few times where human goodness shows itself.  We see it definitely in social media use, but we can also see it the various actions humans do in these difficult times.  Actions as simple as telling someone “Don’t worry, I’ll help” all the way to using your Texas-sized monster truck to help a fellow Houstonian out of a flooded street (yes folx, this is Texas!)

  image from http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Watch-Monster-truck-pulls-truck-from-flooded-11744805.php

Human goodness is here.  Despite all the ugliness has occurred over the past month, it has to take a Category 4 hurricane to bring it to the surface.  Why is that?  Why can’t human goodness just be?  It brings me back to my running.  While a Saturday long run makes human goodness show, I think just knowing that we are part of a community makes it more visible.

However, human goodness and the lack of it can show up depending which community you belong in and how you identify yourself within a community.  Since the start of this long weekend, some events have taken place within our nation that makes me wonder about how some certain individuals define their “goodness” and their “community”.  Human goodness is something that is strongly attached to how you view your world.  Your view determines your actions.  What one specific individual has done in the midst of an impending storm affecting millions does make me wonder.  But that is just my personal opinion, whether others agree or not.

However, human goodness in how I personally define it would make me pause before doing my actions.  There are times to do certain things but there are definitely times where you should not do certain things.  When a Category 4 storm is approaching, I think the message of care, concern, worry, friendship, and safety are the main messages that should be expressed.  End of soapbox.

I fortunately see positive goodness every Saturday morning after I run.  I definitely saw that last night well into the wee hours of the morning. To those that did those actions, I thank you.  We needed it and still do.

Yes indeed, human goodness is here.

Onward…and as I type this, another strong rain band is hitting Clear Lake City.