Texas Pride Takes on Harvey

Last Sunday, I wrote about Hurricane Harvey and what it felt like, watching that beast steer toward my hometown, family, friends… so much of what I treasure most.

A week later, I can’t help reiterating my gratitude. Every one I love is alive, safe. Their homes are (mostly) intact. Even as I hear about the damage done to the Port Aransas house my father inherited from my grandmother, and the many spots of which I have fond memories that have been devastated, I cannot help bowing in humble gratitude. Yes, part of the roof was ripped off the Port A house and thrown to the ground. Yes, the ground floor storage unit beneath the house (many houses in this area are built on stilts in case of hurricanes) was flooded with roughly 4 feet of water, ruining everything. Yes, the electrical loop was ripped off the house, the siding shredded.

But nobody died. And the house still stands. So many other Texans have lost infinitely, heart-breakingly more.

Watching the rain water inundate Houston last week was like having a fist twined around my heart. It’s hard enough to see the state I adore so bludgeoned and being so far away, I can do nothing to assist. But the storm’s impact on the coast and Houston alike hit particularly close to home. Having lived in H-Town for three years, my husband and I have many friends there. I have family. Knowing I could do nothing to help, knowing they could do nothing to fend off the floodwaters, I could only pray and hope.

But despite it all, the sun broke free to beam over Houston on Tuesday–another sign of hope, of God’s goodness. In times of devastation like this, it’s important to validate the suffering of those who have lost so much. But it’s also important to uphold the positive.

That’s why I’m grateful to Robert Dean, an Austin-based author and journalist writing for My Statesman, for so beautifully distilling the Texas pride and perseverance that will pull us through. Here’s what Dean has to say:

“I’m not a Texan. I don’t adore the Lone Star State. I’m a transplant who’s lived in Austin for the last four years. I can’t name the state fish, I don’t understand the thing with mums at Homecoming, and I think chicken fried steak sucks. I don’t care about Friday Night Lights.

But I married into a Texas family. A Texas family with crazy deep roots. My wife is a direct descendant from the Texas Revolution. Through my marriage, I get a front row seat to all things that filter through the Texas lens. I’ve learned a lot about bluebonnets and Whataburger. I know the difference between casual allegiance with Texas colleges, what it really means to be a Longhorn, and the difference between good salsa and crap that came out of a jar.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned as an outsider looking in, it’s that there’s a sense of purpose to these people like I’ve never seen. A central passion runs through Texans unlike any other American identity. Pride percolates here. It’s something people who aren’t from Texas just can’t grasp. We may have a docile sense of civic pride for our hometowns, but nothing like this state demands of its residents.

The Texas flag flies as high as the American flag, while the state Capitol is just a smidge taller than the U.S. Capitol, because – Texas. There are Texas flags on everything. And folks all over this huge collection of miles expect a reverential obsession from those who choose to take up this address, if only for a while.

That sense of purpose and absolute unwillingness to bend in their pride is why Texas will only become stronger in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Before Texas, I spent seven years in New Orleans, a place that knows about heartbreak and flooding. To love New Orleans is to love the city. But a New Orleanian ain’t much of a Louisianan, despite them being hand in hand. They’re two different cultures. But here, even if you’re from the Panhandle or live along the Gulf of Mexico, you still adore this state and will bond together under that flag, that symbol….

Harvey took many lives. It dumped acres of water onto the streets of Houston, decimated Rockport, and flooded Galveston and cities and towns across southeast Texas. But Texas will lick its wounds. Texas will come back bigger and better, and brighter and with more Texas-ness than you can imagine. Texans cannot allow for their diamonds to go unpolished. The thought of a place in Texas where local culture dies just doesn’t feel right. There are no places where the roads are unfinished, or the buildings lie in ruins – that would go against everything these people have known their whole lives: This land is precious and it is our birthright….

The people here know a love that moves deeper than their sense of pride – it’s a calling of purpose.

You cannot count Texas out. There’s no other state in our union that could handle this hurricane. New York has taken its lumps. New Orleans knows what loss feels like, but this is a monster named Harvey that we’ve never seen before. Who better to challenge Harvey head-on than Texas? They’ll do it wearing an Astros cap and with a twisted smile, daring that water to take a piece of the land they love so much.”

For the full article, read here: “I’m new to the state, but I can vouch for Texas grit.”

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FEATURED IMAGE PROPERTY OF Houston Chronicle.

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