Projected to be the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States of America, Hurricane Harvey has left an impact both physically and economically that will be experience for years. Estimated at nearly $200 billion dollars, the damage will be more than the combined effect of Katrina and Sandy. The harsh reality of these facts is that when nature strikes, her power is far beyond our comprehension.
Cloaked in the anguish of despair and devastation is the recurring theme of human response to Nature’s Power – how we come together and put aside our differences in the wake of natural disaster. Too often, we allow our political and social positions to cloud our judgement until it is a matter of life or death. Yet, in those perilous moments of survival, our most powerful natural instinct is to help our brothers and sisters in need, regardless of color, creed, religion or sexual/gender preference.
As the high-water mark of Harvey’s impact begins to recede and local residents slowly begin the long traumatic process of recovery, it is the support and effort of first responders, local civil servants and government agencies, non-profits and humanitarian organizations that will be stretched beyond their capacity to provide any sense of relief. But the mark that will not be as visible is how those individuals’ differences have been suppressed or discarded when processing claims and stories as the rescue ends and rebuilding begins.
We continue to underestimate the incredible power of nature until it is too late. This is demonstrated by the outpouring of support of Americans from every walk of life who give willingly in times of severe crisis and need, but show no interest towards the investment of new infrastructure and improvements to safeguard against such realities. Celebrities and athletes from Beyonce to JJ Watt have exhibited astounding generosity and ingenuity in compiling financial resources to provide relief for those affected, which in itself, shows the incredible power of human compassion. The question remains, if our ability to impact the lives of humans is so powerful, why do we continue to waste human life by allowing the destructive impact of nature? This planet of ours is the only home we have. We need to start recognizing the power of nature and understanding how our own impact can work to guide its forces. Otherwise we are doomed to repeat our failures until all is lost.