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Inside Story
Photo by Tonya Patton

Sifting through my family’s flood of blessings


PEARLAND, Texas — I know what it’s like to wake up to a rearranged landscape.

Growing up in the Houston area, I have lived through many tropical storms — and once rode out a hurricane. I’ve helped remodel a home after a flood.

Tonya Patton | Inside Story

So I thought we were prepared for what we would encounter as my husband and I drove into Pearland after Hurricane Harvey.

We weren’t. The sheer scope of the devastation caused by 50-plus inches of rapid rainfall is hard to grasp. The massive storm paralyzed community after community, family after family — including my own.

My parents reluctantly evacuated as water seeped into my childhood home. As the waters receded, we spent the week going through their belongings, saving what could be saved.

My parents have clung to many of the precious, handmade gifts my brother and I gave them in our younger years — simple crafts we used to profess our love for them. Many just couldn’t be salvaged, and throwing them away was harder than getting rid of any piece of rain-soaked furniture.

But there were also plenty of laughs as we sifted through the time capsule of LPs the four of us had collected over the years. We chuckled as we sorted through waterlogged albums by Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Dire Straits, the Go-Go’s and our personal favorite — K-Tel’s “High Energy” collection featuring such hits as “Shake Your Groove Thing” by Peaches and Herb.

To be honest, we spent more time laughing than crying as we sorted through the flooded house. I think we truly understood that we have so much to be thankful for in the midst of this chaos. So many of our fellow Houstonians lost absolutely everything and aren’t adequately insured. Our hearts break for them — and will continue to break for them long after the TV cameras move on to the next storm. We pray for the long-term recovery, realizing that our hometown will never really be the same again.

It was a hard week, but it also was a week when I witnessed God doing amazing things. Over the entire metroplex and surrounding communities, people are giving in more ways than will ever be recorded.

Ms. Daisy, the family dog, surveys the damage at the Scott home in Pearland, Texas.

God is moving people who do not call him by name. God is moving people who will never give him the glory. People are connecting with one another and bonding as they never have before. People are learning to appreciate one another for who they really are.

As a society, we are putting away all that doesn’t matter and being human together.

This hurricane caught our attention and changed our focus.

This hurricane forced us to remember what’s most important in life.

This hurricane is bringing our families, communities and nation together and helping us be our best — together.

Many of us are paralyzed by the overwhelming nature of the disaster — and will deal with the scars for years to come. Most of all, we mourn for those families who now have an empty spot at the dinner table.

It’s time to pick up and rebuild together. For all of us, this is a restart. How are we going to use it? How is this moment going to define us?

Contact: [email protected]

Filed under: Inside Story Top Stories disaster relief Hurricane Harvey Texas

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