Human spirit is stronger than any storm
We are still very much into the hurricane season and Bermuda has a long history of taking on storms of all sizes. Some have caused extensive damage with tragic loss of life. Whenever our island is confronted with a major challenge from the fury of nature, remarkably, social or political status is quickly shoved aside in the full knowledge that the only way to confront a life-threatening storm is to pull together as one people.
It is unfortunate that the spirit of co-operation seen during a crisis is seldom present with normal day-to-day activity. Perhaps it is a part of human nature that exists in most parts of the world.
Texas, one of the largest of the 50 states that make up the Union, has always boasted of having things bigger than everyone else. A great deal of humour has circulated over the years about fruits and vegetables two and three times the size of similar produce from other areas. However, it is doubtful they would have wanted to be the recipient of perhaps the largest hurricane to strike that area in many decades.
Before Harvey reached land with winds gusting to 140mph, weather experts monitoring one of nature’s giants were warning that there would be significant damage and flooding. One meteorologist said computers were showing potential flood figures from heavy rain that seemed a little far out. However, as the storm ploughed into major areas including Houston, the grim reality was that things appeared far worse than expected.
What was starting to unfold was a real-life drama, with many thousands trapped in their homes and water rising so rapidly that many roads leading out of the area had been turned into flowing rivers. The long nightmare for Texas had begun and officials knew a massive rescue operation involving boats and helicopters would be needed, along with the help of citizens to gain some control over a situation that had shattered lives. Homes were demolished and others were so badly damaged that even hope of returning was just that — hope.
While many communities were without power or water, as rescuers scrambled to reach everyone in need, something else began to take shape. What was emerging amid raging wind and pounding rain was the human spirit rising above everything the storm could throw. No one had a second thought as to whether their neighbour was a Republican or a Democrat, or had a different skin colour.
Across much of Texas that was uprooted by Hurricane Harvey, people rushed out to help others in distress, even putting themselves in danger to do so. These wonderful people showed what American values were about. They were not doing this for publicity; their goal was to help as many as possible because, as one person put it, “if I was in trouble, I would want someone to help me”.
Few of us can imagine what stress and emotional suffering people are sustaining after not only losing their homes, but also having to contemplate how they will cope in the days and weeks ahead. Although the loss of life has not been heavy, with only a few reported fatalities, any loss of life is tragic.
Modern advanced warning systems for such storms may have played a part in keeping people aware of the dangers through round-the-clock weather updates. Houston appears to have taken the brunt of the storm, but the spirit of most people held stronger than many of the structures. That could be the key to rebuilding and it is to be hoped the citizens there will begin that journey when the last cloud from Harvey fades into history.
In Bermuda we never lose sight of the power of a hurricane. Each year during this season, Bermudians keep an eye on weather systems that could develop into a serious threat for the island. It is nothing new, since our position in the Atlantic is a normal path for many storms heading north.
However, like the people of Houston, Bermuda has always locked arms during such challenges, and we all hope for the best for the people of Texas.
The important factor here is that the human spirit is stronger than any storm.
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