The past week and a half has touched me deeply, as I sat here in Dallas in the safety of my own home while many of my Houston clients and close friends dealt with Hurricane Harvey.
The whole experience took me down a path of reflection that I hadn’t expected. Many of you know that I lived in Houston for 17 years. I was working at Deloitte in Houston when Hurricane Katrina hit, and I jumped in to help lead the “war room” to coordinate our efforts to move many of our employees from Louisiana to Dallas. During Tropical Storm Allison, I remember watching the rain pouring down for hours and the water rising around us. At some point I fell asleep and woke up to loud banging on the front door. As I jumped out of bed startled, I landed in three feet of nasty brown water. I waded across my bedroom to find my good friend and neighbor checking to make sure we were okay. I’ll never forget the view of Hwy 59 the next morning, which looked like a river flowing through the middle of the city.
In 2008, during Hurricane Ike, we evacuated because my son was only two. I remember being glued to the TV wondering what would happen. Our house was one of the lucky few in our area that never lost power, didn’t flood, and had very little damage. It became a home for friends who didn’t fare as well. The Houston we came back to looked drastically different than the one we left.
This time, before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, I invited several friends to evacuate to Dallas but they all chose to stay put. One night, I spent hours reaching out to over 60 people individually to make sure they were ok. Several of them were sitting in closets with their children listening to tornado sirens going off again and again, praying that everything would be ok (especially since water was going to be released from reservoirs as well). I felt useless from this far away.
In the midst of it all, I was again reminded of the Power of One – the power that each of us has to make a difference in the lives of others.
During this tragedy, I am inspired by what I see—differences disappearing and people simply treating people as people. People are coming together to offer emotional or financial support, or lend a hand in picking up the pieces. Houstonians have a can-do attitude and resilience like I have never experienced anywhere else. But this time, as I sit in Dallas, I am equally touched by the outpouring of support and kindness I see here.
Just remember that you can tap into your Power of One each and every day, in big or small ways. But if there were ever a time to use it, it is now. Twenty-seven trillion gallons later, the road ahead for many Houstonians is a long one.