For many years those of us working in safety, maintenance and operations in the chemical plants were served up a hurricane season video as a monthly safety topic. It was the 1969 Hurricane Camille emergency response/ civil defense film named "A lady called Camille". I know I personally saw it at least 20 times. The video is posted on YouTube and shows the devastation those folks experienced in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
The only difference between what happened there and here is we did not get the wind and all of us are thankful for that. However, for those folks whose houses, apartments, and trailers are underwater, the feeling of being a war-torn refugee is the same. How do we start over when everything is gone? Who is going to help us get back on our feet? Why, oh why did this happen to me? It feels hopeless and overwhelming. The good news is it starts first with friends and family.
Tom Petty said it best and I fudged it a bit to make it fit. "Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some. Who knows maybe you were kidnapped tied up, taken away and held for ransom. Honey, it don't make no difference to me. Everybody has to fight to get free, you see? You don't have to live like a refugee."
It's going to be an epic struggle; possibly the greatest hardship you've ever experienced. At first and maybe for quite a few days it's going to seem impossible and nothing anyone says makes it easier. All you've worked for; all those hours of overtime to get where you were; all the blood, sweat, and tears you devoted to accumulate the things for your precious family are gone, soaked, damaged, or ruined... or are they?
We all know life is temporal and have repeated it to others all our life. There is no promise of tomorrow on this terra firma, but this is real this time. This is me and my family we are talking about. Baytown is not some war-torn Third World country where every 3 years we lose the stuff we own and get in food lines and we are not used to having our schedules disrupted. So where does it all begin?
We are experiencing a statewide catastrophe of epic and unprecedented magnitude and it will take a bit of time for our emergency system to catch up to what has happened. Food, water, shelter will begin to arrive, but it will seem sluggishly slow. Volunteers will be needed due to sheer almost unmanageable logistics and people helping people will be the answer. Everyone will be called up to be patient and tempers geared way back for this to work. Instant gratification will become a luxury none of us can afford.
"Baby we ain't the first. I'm sure a lot of others been burned. Right now it seems too real to you, but it's one of those things you gotta feel to get through. You don't have to live like a refugee " Refugees don't have your network of friends and family to draw on. You are stronger than that.
We are in the greatest challenge many of us have ever experienced and business as usual will not resume until far into 2018. We are going to rebuild and we are going to not only survive, but we are going to thrive. Like the man in the Camille video said, "We have a lot of beautiful country here. We'll make it beautiful again." We have each other.
We have the opportunity to build on rock and we are going to be ready the next time - and there will be a next time. We are not going to live in self pity, but stand tall and shake our fists at the sky and declare we are stronger than what the clouds have to throw at us. We won't have to be by ourselves when we do this, because we have each other. When life threw us a lemon, we are not going to make lemonade. We are going to throw a banquet.
Volunteerism, compassion, and cooperation will create bonds that will last a lifetime. Our city of interlopers and nomads will stretch a web of love toward each other than beats anything we've ever experienced. Wait and see, down the road people will laugh and smile and declare they were here during Harvey and fought back. To all those who have already began the process of rescuing and comforting those who have evacuated, God bless you. Now it's time for the rest of us to join in and let's get these folks back on their feet.
YouTube hurricane Camille video: https://youtu.be/KF4MA321zrQ
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers: Refugee
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers: Refugee