In the midst of civil unrest in America, an attack on Americans, whether by man or Mother Nature, unites a people divided. As Hurricane Harvey slowly and painstakingly cut a swath of devastation across the Texas Gulf coast, citizens in the state and across America joined emergency management teams and first responders to answer the anguished cries of neighbors and strangers.
Of course, we hear of the generosity of celebrities; good press relations have their name and donation amounts splashed across all media outlets, and they are to be commended for using their own money and their fame to raise even greater amounts. But we at Liberty Nation are touched by the contributions of regular people of valor. They may not have made the evening broadcasts or received thousands of likes on Twitter—but they make us believe in America.
The American Red Cross is unparalleled when responding to disasters. Within hours of Harvey making landfall, ARC snapped into service setting up shelters in community and convention centers, managing food and water, and delivering aid. Unfortunately, as flood waters ransacked Houston and the surrounding suburban neighborhoods, access to the ARC centers was effectively made impossible for a passage to safety.
And that’s why businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale opened his furniture store showrooms to flood victims. Using the store’s 24-foot furniture haulers, he and volunteers drove the water engulfed roads and rescued those he brought to his stores. As the owner of Gallery Furniture, McIngvale is housing and feeding out of his own pocket over 400 evacuees. With beds, couches, easy chairs, and showers on site, McIngvale hopes to give a little bit of home to the now temporarily homeless. As he stated in a recent interview, attempting to describe reactions of a flood victim:
” [you are] sitting in a perfectly normal house one day and then, 10 minutes later you’ve got three feet of water in it. So, it’s very stressful, and we’re trying to help them out because they’ve done so much for us over the years.”
We’d also like you to meet another Houston family who turned their home into a shelter for sixteen people and seven pets, seemingly without hesitation. As thousands of people poured into the sterile and cold atmosphere of the Houston Convention Center and the ARC pop up shelters, Pastor Nicole Richert found refugees huddled in the onslaught of pounding rain at a Shell gas station. Making several trips from the station to her home, Richert welcomed the strangers and their beloved pets, for the long haul:
She cooked up a big dinner of chili and cornbread for her house guests, including a few older couples and families with children, and then set up sleeping areas around her home. “They were all complete strangers to Nicole, but Nicole shows all the best character traits of Texas hospitality and Christian love,” friend Kevin McGown told the Chronicle.
Richert genuinely understands how important a furry family member is to achieving a somewhat normal life after leaving one’s home and worldly belongings. And pets are on the radar of the all-volunteer group in Illinois, the Hoopeston Animal Rescue Team (HART).
As abandoned animals and pet owners sought a safe-haven for their animals to ride out the storm and the ensuing recovery efforts, one shelter sent out a distress call to rescue and rehab locations nationwide. Urgent Animals of Fort Worth is at full capacity housing just over 700 animals. As the floods brought hundreds of dogs and cats to the shelter, they added tents and kennels on the grounds, hoping to relocate these desperate and frightened refugees.
HART mobilized immediately, and in the small community where they call home, raised thousands of dollars and much-needed supplies and food. A cargo van loaded to capacity is on route to Fort Worth where two volunteers will swap kibble, collars and medical supplies for animals in dire need of assistance. A second trip is planned for September 9 in a much larger vehicle to take dozens more animals in need to the Hoopeston, Illinois no-kill facility.
By the time 52 inches of rainfall from Harvey breached the record books, news outlets, and social media warriors had uncovered the best and the worst in Americans by highlighting both the sinners and the saints. We will not soon forget the attempts by one major electronics store chain to gouge the desperate Texans by selling water at 40 dollars a case. But let’s forever remember those regular people of valor who made an incredible difference by being human–by being American.
As the late David Bowie might say to us now, “We could steal time, just for one day; we can be Heroes, for ever and ever what d’you say?”