Find a way to help Texas, if you can

Published 10:49 pm Friday, September 1, 2017

Highways and interstates were turned into rivers. Neighborhoods were turned into lakes. Homes were turned into islands.

Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall and flooding were overwhelming to those of us watching as it unfolded live on TV. I can’t imagine how it looked and felt to those seeking higher ground in Southeast Texas.

I have traveled the roads submerged by Harvey’s flood waters. I have worked in those flooded downtown Houston buildings. I have slept in homes overtaken by the deluge.

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My wife’s family lives in the area of Texas hit hardest by Harvey. For a time, we called the area home. I worked in Houston and we lived just north of the city. It’s hard to imagine those places now spoiled with flood water.

Most of us have some connection to Houston — or know someone who does.  That happens with a city as large as Houston. So most of us have heard of someone whose home was ruined by Harvey. Officials estimate more than 150,000 homes were affected.

We know hurricanes here in Mississippi. We know the flooding and the storm surge and the death and the destruction. We also know the rebuilding and rebirth that follows.

But Harvey was different. The hurricane is expected to cost the economy more than Katrina and Sandy combined, with estimates as high as $190 billion. It may end up being the most expensive natural disaster in American history.

The storm set rainfall records, with about 27 trillion gallons of water falling over six days. More than 70,000 people were rescued, with that number still climbing. In Harris County, the home of Houston, about 10 percent of the structures were flooded. Houston’s mayor said at least $75 million will be needed just to remove debris from homes.

Other cities were hit just as hard. Port Arthur and Beaumont were still rescuing people Friday. Earlier this week, my wife’s grandmother and aunt and uncle were stuck in a Port Arthur home as water crept inside. Thankfully, the water receded while they were waiting on a boat rescue.

The scenes of thousands waiting in shelters, holding all their possessions in garbage bags, are heart-breaking. But it will get worse long after the news crews leave town. Those residents, many without flood insurance, will soon lay eyes on the devastation that was once their homes.

Family mementos, photos, toys, furniture — all the things that make a house a home — will be ruined. The floors will stink with flood water, sewage and decay. The walls will soon grow black with mold.

What will those people do? How do you start a life over when most of the things in your life are now ruined? Yes, possessions can be replaced. But that takes money. Floors and walls can be replaced. But only with money. Homes can be rebuilt if you have enough money. Many Harvey victims don’t. Life will never be the same for Harvey’s victims.

The Mississippi Coast eventually returned to normal after Katrina. Though the scars still remain, life eventually goes on. How long will it take for the same to happen in Southeast Texas?

Lincoln Countians are doing their part to help that happen. There are several groups gathering donations. Gov. Phil Bryant has promoted Reed’s Metals’ efforts to gather supplies. Find a way to pitch in if you can. Southeast Texas has a long road to recovery and will need all the help it can get.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at