It is hard to imagine the horror that so many Texans are undergoing today. It’s been over a week since Harvey caused the devastation in South Texas and some people still have not been allowed to return to their homes to see if they are still there.
For those of us who live in homes away from the ocean, we have our tornadoes to keep us on our toes, but to be hit with a hurricane of such magnitude is almost unimaginable. In talking to people around town, it seems that almost all of us have a connection with someone or many who are hurting or have evacuated to higher ground.
My own sister, Monna Buckley who lives in McKinney, has been at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston with her daughter Melinda, who became ill with leukemia last September. She had been at M.D. Anderson for the past year. It turned out that she and my sister were safely captive in the hospital for most of the week of the hurricane and afterwards. Since her daughter’s treatment has been so lengthy, Monna had a small apartment near the hospital to be near her daughter. For several days, she didn’t know if her apartment or her car were underwater.
Friday, however, she ventured out and found that both were fine. Until Sunday, family members had been unable to get to the hospital from McKinney to be with my gravely ill niece. Melinda passed away Monday afternoon and thankfully her dad, Newton Buckley from McKinney and her sister, Bebe Buckley Trimble from Colorado, were able to join my sister at her side.
Water did get into the main floor of the hospital and workers as well as many visitors were trapped. The hospital stepped up and provided, free of charge, three meals a day to all for a solid week.
It is wonderful how not only Texas, but the entire United States have pulled together to provide assistance to so many hurting people. Volunteers from all over the country, including many from Denison and the entire Grayson County and Texomaland areas have loaded up at their own expense with their boats, trucks and other means of helping rescue those stranded in the water to take them to safe evacuation points.
Pictures of rescuers carrying children, elderly in nursing homes and pets have brought tears to the eyes of many. Being somewhat of a photographer, I have looked at some of them with the thought that while the rescuers were only concerned with saving lives, some no doubt will be viewed over and over for a long time.
Our good friend, Jerry Bob Hayes’ son, Bobby Hayes, who lives in Beaumont, rode out the hurricane but his employer wasn’t so lucky. His house sustained major damage, so since the hurricane the boss and family that includes his wife, five children, five dogs and a flying squirrel have been bunking with Bobby.
On Monday, Jerry Bob and his son’s uncle, Jimmy Wright, left early in the morning with a pickup loaded with necessities such as water (the Beaumont water is contaminated), toilet paper, staples and cleaning supplies. Their place of work in Beaumont had some damage, but the son and his boss were expected to check out the damage Tuesday.
Theda Kellogg Darling, a Denison High School classmate who now lives in Colorado, posted on Facebook that while she was watching the aftermath of the storm, she saw a boat with the writing on the side “Search and Rescue, Denison, Texas.” She said it made her proud to see that her hometown had answered the call for help. Many other towns in the area sent help to the stricken area.
Boone Bassett and some of his buddies from Grayson and Fannin Counties took off early last week with an air boat when the call came out for help to rescue people stranded in and on top of their homes. They worked several days at their own expense helping save these people. Boone’s grandmother, Jerri Bassett, said their guys spent their own money on gasoline, blankets, water and food for those in need.
These are just a few of the local stories of people that I know and stories like these have been happening all around Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and anywhere the call for help could be answered. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other such organizations were among the first on the scene. The country forgot about all the Washington drama for a few days as it focused on saving thousands of people in need in the Houston area on up into Louisiana.
One thing that has been wonderful is how those who could afford it have freely donated millions to help put the city and thousands of lives back together.
This has been one of those times that we will never forget. My list is growing with Harvey being added. First was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, then the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, the Sept. 11 disaster in New York City, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and now Hurricane Harvey.
Each one of these disasters has brought the people of each state and the entire country together to show just what our country is made of. No matter what happens in Washington, we live in a wonderful country and we will survive.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at email@example.com. She has been a longtime contributor to the Herald Democrat with her bi-weekly column, which appears in the Wednesday and Sunday editions. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.