Monday, September 11, 2017

Pray for Houston

Most people have spent the weekend trying to get out of Houston. I’ve spent mine trying to go there.

In addition to being a contributor to the Resurgent, I’m also a professional pilot based at Houston’s Hobby airport. My flight schedule had me taking a trip out of Houston and all the way to Alaska on Thursday. I intended to return quickly.

We were watching Harvey, then a tropical storm, as I left. We stocked up on food, water and gasoline before I went to work and left my wife and children at our home in a small town northeast of Houston. We considered evacuating them, but they decided to stay home since the storm was forecast to hit in the Corpus Christi area, hundreds of miles away.

As it turned out, Harvey did not hit Houston directly, but the “dirty side” of the storm certainly did. For most of Saturday and Sunday, the storm’s bands hovered over Houston, barely moving, but dropping torrential rains. By Sunday night, my wife reported that our town had received 20.6 inches of rain. Forecasts indicate the possibility of another 20 inches to come over the next few days. Category 1 Harvey had turned into a monster.

Of course, my flight home was canceled. Over 24 hours of travel, the closest I could get to Houston and home was Dallas, where I sit in a hotel room writing this. Both of Houston’s primary airports are closed, as are most roads in the area.

My family is unable to evacuate at this point. We live on a county road and both ends are currently flooded. We are lucky in that our house is high and dry. Others are not so fortunate.

In the three years that I have lived in Texas, we have seen floods every year, but nothing like this. Texas storms are unlike those that I have seen anywhere else. It is not uncommon for a large storm system moving inland from the Gulf of Mexico to dump four to five inches of rain on our house within a matter of hours. Harvey dwarfs even these storms.

If there is a precedent for a hurricane to move ashore and simply sit over a city for days on end, I don’t know of it. A more normal storm would move inland and, cut off from the warm water that energizes it, slowly die. Harvey doesn’t seem to want to die.

Miracle of miracles, electric power and cell phone coverage seem to be intact in most areas. I have maintained contact with my family and checked on friends who are scattered around Houston’s immense metropolitan area. Social media has shown its value as people post road closings and reach out to bolster each other’s morale as the water rises. Some have been evacuated, most are sheltering in place. There is little choice but to shelter in place at this point unless you have access to a boat or a helicopter.

Houston is a flat area. Flooding is common even from much smaller storms than Harvey. There is simply nowhere for such large amounts of water to go. The situation will get worse. Water is being released from over-full reservoirs that will further swell the Houston-area rivers. The San Jacinto, the Trinity, the Brazos, the Colorado will all be swollen for weeks.

The indomitable Texas spirit shines through as Houston-area residents pull together to help one another. But, as independent as Texans are, the Lone Star State cannot cope with this disaster alone. Texas will need help to recover from Harvey.

With the area currently inaccessible, what Texas really needs right now is prayer. Thousands of people are stranded and in danger from the rising waters. Many more have lost their homes and possessions. Jobs are being lost as businesses flood. Rescue forces can’t reach everyone, but prayer can.

And still the rain continues. If the forecasts are right, it won’t stop for days.

Many in Texas are realizing what is really important. If you can escape the flood waters with your life and your family, you are blessed. Material things can be replaced. Lost lives cannot.

At times like this, we realize how fragile modern life can be. One day things are normal, the next can be a fight for survival. Man does not control his own destiny, no matter how we might pretend that we do. The forces of nature are far beyond our control. This is as true in modern America as it is anywhere else.

What we can be certain of is that God is control. The God who created the seas and walked on water can also calm the storm and make the floods recede.

Pray for my wife and children. Pray for Houston. Pray for Texas. Pray for America.

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