I’ve long associated the name Harvey with a six-foot, three-and-a-half-inch tall, helpful rabbit that happened to be invisible to everyone but a friend in a movie that went by the same name. It was a truly tender comedy with Jimmy Stewart playing the rabbit’s best buddy, but the new Harvey on the scene, a Texas hurricane, is anything but funny — although human goodness has shown up in it, too.
This hurricane has been a major disaster, pouring rain in depths almost unimaginable, wrecking homes and other buildings, closing off transportation and electrical power, leaving people stranded, and taking no one yet knows how many lives. We’ve got a new Texas coming our way, a beaten-down Texas, a recovering Texas. It’s going to be years before the old, robust days are fully back, and the entire nation will be affected.
Nevertheless, the response has been something to warm hearts, with millions all over jumping in with donations. President Donald Trump has been at his very best, with early reports telling us of exceptional federal help and cooperation with local authorities. Local police? Excellent. The national guard? Nothing could be better. Charitable organizations? Hallelujah.
And then there are just ordinary people from all walks of life putting themselves at risk as they strenuously work to rescue people each day. You watch the TV news and see all kinds of marvels, such as a fellow standing on his roof and a helicopter flying over and lowering another guy who helps attach him to a line that pulls the two up and transports them to safety.
You read about a pregnant woman about to give birth who cannot get to a hospital. Everyone in the apartment building helps her until someone gets in touch with a fire department and it sends over a garbage truck that can deal with the flooded streets. You see photos of people saving their pets and see the looks in their faces — the faces of the dogs as well as the people — and almost want to cry.
Here is unity in a nation so, so divided, and there is a feeling of warmth about what we Americans really are beneath it all. But then comes the bad news, the news about looters, for instance. For them, an empty house is a picnic, and they don’t mind shooting at rescuers. They also rob rescuers and the stranded — they let no opportunity pass them by. Price gougers also know a good thing when they see it, such as charging ridiculous prices just for bottled water or motel rooms. A multimillionaire preacher fails to open the doors of his 16,000-seat megachurch immediately as a shelter. You can look up his excuses.
Climate scientists have mostly sounded reasonable, saying that, yes, global warming can add to a storm’s intensity and almost certainly did in this instance. Warming, however, does not appear to cause the storms, and there are fewer hurricanes than there used to be. Some screeching journalists would make you see things differently without adding that so-called solutions like the Paris accords would do next to nothing to prevent what they ultimately fear.
A Wall Street Journal editorial said something important. We’re a rich country, and that makes this unprecedented flooding terror far less devastating than it would otherwise be. I believe corporate tax reform of the kind Trump wants would boost economic growth to the point of helping to keep that wealth intact and that the promised infrastructure plan should focus first on Texas roads and bridges.
This latest Harvey will make no one laugh, but despite our imperfections, it has helped show us what most of us are made of, and that can be crucial as we face a host of other challenges.
Let’s meanwhile continue to do all we can for the afflicted Texans.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Column courtesy of the Associated Press.