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Wade Heath: Putting political divisions aside

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Posted: Sunday, September 3, 2017 5:30 pm

Hurricane Harvey has been even worse than expected for the millions of Texans who live in its path. Hundreds of thousands have been evacuated, tens of thousands have lost their belongings or homes to damage, and at last count, 14 are believed dead.

But even as Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, catastrophic flooding and heavy winds have made getting out of harm’s way even more difficult.

And while the numbers are stacking up with those displaced and hurt by this act of nature, perhaps the most revealing of incidents within this chaos have to do with the inspiring resolve and spirit of the people of Texas.

In a video that has gone viral, a crowd of people fleeing a neighborhood in a county that borders Houston united together to save a disabled man who had been left stranded outside of his care facility. The neighbors banded together and got a van to the location where they each grabbed a portion of the man’s wheelchair and lifted him into the back of the vehicle in order to get him to safety.

In the heaviest of impacted areas where flood waters have risen to record levels, neighbors are using their own resources to aid and assist overstretched authorities in saving people who were unable to leave their homes or who got caught in the wake.

Southwest Airlines airlifted about 500 stranded passengers out of the closed Houston Hobby airport on Sunday. Southwest was able to get special permission from the FAA to operate out of the closed, flooded, airport and deliver customers to Love Field in Dallas.

Another response to the calls for help from victims in southwest Texas is coming from a volunteer group who have labeled themselves the “Cajun Navy.” The team is comprised of individuals who have their own boats and watercraft and are utilizing them to rescue people that 911 operators are unable to direct additional resources to.

The Cajun Navy is also reaching out to community members in need through Facebook and the app Zello. It’s been reported by ABC News that some of these good Samaritans are even from out of state. Some coming from Louisiana, while others have come from Alabama.

NBC News reports that a Georgia Anheuser-Busch brewery transported more than 155,000 cans of water that had been marked for beer production to Texas and Louisiana in the onslaught of Harvey.

“Since 1988 we have donated an excess of 76 million cans of clean drinking water,” the brewery company’s vice president for community affairs, Bill Bradley, told NBC. “The Cartersville (Georgia) location is our designated brewery for the emergency water program — it’s something we’re very proud of.”

People Magazine shared the story of a pregnant woman and her husband finding themselves trapped in their apartment due to several feet of flood waters, and when she went into labor they were unable to connect to emergency services for help.

People reported, “As it happens, their apartment complex is home to many medical professionals who work at the nearby Texas Medical Center. A neighbor sent out a call for help on a community message board. In short order, doctors, nurses and EMTs arrived at the door with sutures, scissors and other supplies.”

Neighbors who were aware of the unfolding birth were keeping watch on the rising flood waters when they saw a lone garbage truck barreling through the river that had become their street.

Flagging the truck down, a neighbor explained what was happening and the driver and his team said that they would get the pregnant couple to the hospital.

It was then that the apartment community rallied together to form a human chain out to the truck through the rising waters so that the pregnant woman wouldn’t be swept away.

Fortunately, the couple made it to the hospital in time and was able to have their child in a safe and secure location.

I wanted to highlight these stories because too often we feel that the human condition has fallen into a state of apathy or is unable to overcome its own division.

Remarkably, not one story mentioned anything about anyone’s political affiliation or race. And somehow it didn’t matter because we are first and foremost brothers and sisters who need one another — we’re not a color, party, or even a religion.

For all of the devastation and misfortune coming out of Texas, there is an awful lot of love and light holding things together. Let these moments remind you that we are always capable of greatness when faced with adversity.

We are Americans and we are family.

Wade Heath grew up in Lodi. Reconnect with him:

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