Changing Lives During Storms: Never Be Complacent

By Janice Barlow

It is inevitable that storms and floods will continue to barrage our nation. As I write this, another tropical depression is making its way across the Atlantic in a pattern that is causing discomfort at the Hurricane Center.

In spite of all the hype of approaching storms by various media, especially the Weather Channel, now the bedrock of media meteorology, people have become jaded. Folks in potential danger brush off the possibility of being flooded out of their homes, of losing their roofs, their vehicles, their livelihoods or even their lives.

Why do so many stand unconcerned in the face of conceivable peril? Why is it always assumed that it will happen to someone else? And when the storm really hits us in the face, why are we always caught off guard to the point of shock, thinking that it wasn’t supposed to happen to us?

A new mindset needs to become part of our lives for many reasons. Hurricane Harvey could have easily, because of timing, or the jet stream, or currents, been swept the other way and made landfall in Pinellas County, FL, home to a million residents, not including thousands of tourists. On the other side of the small circlet of Tampa Bay lies the city of Tampa itself, where another approximately 400,000 people live. These are also low lying areas, just like Houston. An entire county and city could now be literally under water.

The storm could have turned into New Orleans and made Katrina seem a lesser tragedy in terms of property damage and displaced residents. Or it could have taken any number of turns. And the fact that Harvey continues to wreak so much havoc many miles from the coast is proof that coastal living is not the only place where a person can lose his home in a hurricane.

Many tornadoes were spawned as well. There are no basements to speak of to hide in, and where there are, this is exacerbated by the fact that they are likely to already be flooded. Such are the risks of living where the water table is not very far below the surface of the land.

But we continue to build. We continue to place property in areas where there is a higher probability that sooner or later, a storm will come along and either flood it or blow it away. We close our eyes and minds to the possibility of danger. And each time rebuilding takes place, the expenses and insurance costs are higher. The fear is imbedded in the hearts of the people who choose to remain for whatever reason. I say this as a resident of coastal North Carolina, a frequently hurricane slammed area. We love the beach. But we understand the risk that entails.

Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation. I was surprised by this statistic. I am also taken aback each day as I read about the ongoing rescues and assistance, how deep and far reaching this event has become. It is still raining there. And long after the rain stops, bayous and rivers will continue to rise and cause damage.

Homes will continue to flood. Many will be condemned due to mold and structural damage. Some businesses will be wiped out for good. And one thing is certain; life will never be the same for the residents of a major industrial and commercial city that has a huge impact on the rest of the nation. They first must confront the complications of disease, contamination and dangers that flooded areas present. Then, after the waters recede, the psychological impact will rise from within, and for many, may never recede.

While the rest of the nation sits back and watches the news as it appears distant; when we regard with sympathy the people who have lost everything and are facing the rebuilding of their entire lives; when we see a city and surrounding areas that will feel the impact of about ten days of a storm for literally a decade to come; it’s time to stop and change our thinking now.

Check with your local church to see how you can give. Is there a mission organization that can funnel money directly to those who are affected by the storm? Not that the typical organizations aren’t good; it’s just that most mission groups have far less overhead and can get the money directly where it is needed most. You don’t have to be a member. Ask a close friend who is a regular church attender how you can help.

My own church donates through a disaster relief mission called, “Hearts With Hands” that already has vehicles en route to Southeast Texas, loaded with supplies and people ready to help out wherever and however they are needed.  They will be continuing this assistance for weeks to come. This is their website:

We also have a mission in Corpus Christi called Roloff Homes which helps people with addictions get back on their feet with prayer and structure in their lives. The people live at the mission and must live drug free. They have helped over 20,000 people recover. Roloff Homes lost the roofs off of two of its buildings on the campus, including the dormitory for women residents. Here is their website:

If you don’t know where to donate, the above two organizations are non-profits and could surely put your money right to work helping with relief efforts. And you will get quarterly newsletters from them regarding their work. Otherwise, please find a place where you can give your coffee money, or your football snack money, or your weekend getaway money.

We cannot be complacent. We cannot tuck this tragedy away and say, “Whew, good thing that didn’t happen here!” Because someday it might.


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