I turned on my television this morning to the Weather Channel. They were interviewing a lady in Houston, (I think her name was Lynn), about the ongoing crisis that is Hurricane Harvey. It touched my heart to hear Lynn tell her story. She told about her personal experience of the past few days being stuck in her apartment. She spoke of stacking her most precious possessions high up to protect them from the rising flood waters. Lynn shared her sorrow and woe in a soft but eloquent manner. She summed up her living nightmare in just one sentence: “The cars are dying and the cats are crying.”
The cars she referred to were all about her neighborhood and submerged underwater. Occasionally a car alarm would go off. Sometimes the water would short out the ignition wiring of an auto causing the engine to start up and actually run for a few seconds. She described these sounds as the last gasps of life coming from the dying cars.
The eerie cries she explained were from feral cats as they scrambled to find shelter and protection from the rising waters. They cried out with despair in the night like terrified animals trapped in a forest fire.
There have been many similar scenes of human and animal trials and tribulations in other locations both in our distant and recent past. Man has not yet advanced beyond the point of totally conquering nature and the elements. It may appear so at times, but we get harsh reminders from time to time that this is not so, such as in our present situation. And when nature does not actively seek our destruction and demise, sadly we often bring it on ourselves with conflict, war and self-destruction.
For some time we have been seeing on TV where other countries have recently lost major cities. Bombed out structures and piles of rubble are all that remain of former thriving communities, shops, schools, homes and peoples lives. But that’s all far away in places like Iraq and Syria. We are well removed and safe from such horrors here ... or so we have told ourselves. Then there was Katrina in New Orleans. Now there is Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Many surrounding towns are as bad off and perhaps in worse shape compared to our fourth largest city — Houston. Giant funnel clouds ominously hang from the sky and rip through fields, trailer parks and towns like giant, fast moving egg beaters. They shred everything laying in their paths. Almost biblical in nature you might say in regards to size, scope and severity of the damage. Who other than Noah could envision 50-plus inches of rainfall in one week? Speaking of biblical; Armageddon, that nightmare many have feared and expected for so long has seemingly arrived for some!
All that we know and expect of normal life and stability will remain and continue till then suddenly it doesn’t. It’s as though someone has flipped a switch and a destruction cycle has abruptly begun. People’s hopes, dreams and exceptions are crushed. Human misery, suffering and degradation ensues.
How to describe it — continuous days and days of relentless never-ending rain — something that shouldn’t be, but is. Uninsured homes are ruined. People’s lives, families and futures are uprooted. Business and their inventories are destroyed. Clean up and restoration costs are unimaginable. The scope of the widespread destruction has not yet sunk in for most people in the rest of the country.
The why and wherefore of it all is a confounding question mark. People almost always want to point a finger to some leader, party or some such source to blame after an event such as this. But who can you blame — nature, freak weather conditions, fate?
Easy living and the comfort our modern technology brings us is too often taken for granted. Life is precious and each new day is a gift. We should take and accept happiness and joy when and where we find it and be happy to be alive. I know it sounds trite, but that’s my view.
I wish it were simple and easy. I wish I could outline the problem and its cause and then come up with a workable solution. It would be nice to wrap it all up neatly with a positive and cheerful conclusion. But for now I think it will take much time to accept, reflect and to heal.
There will be recovery and rebuilding. Life will go on. Cities and their infrastructures will hopefully be improved in their design and planning. The tragedy and horrors of this event will eventually fade in people’s memories.
The rains will pass and the sun will shine again.
Dan O’Connor can be reached at email@example.com.