This past week, Hurricane Harvey brought historical havoc to the Texas Coast, making landfall right in Rockport, Texas and traveling all the way to Houston, where it proceeded to sit stationary for five days and dump the equivalent of what The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compared to as “the biggest waterfall in Niagara Falls continuously pouring on Texas for nine months.”
Early estimates on Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the retail industry have come in at about $1 billion in losses. However, the entire impact is yet to be seen as the flood waters slowly subside and reveal the full impact of the devastation.
That is not to say that this natural disaster has only brought darkness and gloom. In the face of disaster, we have not only seen retailers step up to the plate to help out the victims of Harvey, but we have also seen technology and people play an important role in recovery and rescue efforts like never before.
Retailers give back to their consumers
While it is estimated that retailers will lose an enormous amount of money from Hurricane Harvey, that has not stopped retailers from stepping in to help with recovery efforts. This week alone, we saw retailers large and small pledge donations to aid hurricane victims. Notable retailers included Walmart, Amazon, Lowe’s and the Home Depot.
Technology aids first aid
As Hurricane Harvey pounded on Texas, emergency lines throughout the state became extremely saturated, leaving people waiting to be rescued. However, thanks to social media efforts, such as people reaching out for help on Facebook and a walkie talkie app called Zello, civilians were quickly able to mobilize alongside first respondents to aid in water rescue efforts.
The Texas Spirit
On a personal note, I had the privilege of calling Houston home from age six until age 20, when I moved away to college. My family and I immigrated to Houston, Texas from Guadalajara, Jalisco when I was in first grade and my immediate family still resides in Houston.
Growing up in Houston completely shaped the person I am today. It is the place where I met my best friends who are now more family to me than just friends. It is the place where I met my husband and extended my family. And it is the place that taught me you can find unity amongst diversity.
As an immigrant to the U.S., Houston provided a completely welcoming environment as I found myself in a melting pot with diverse cultures from all over the world. The mural in the heart of downtown Houston reads “Houston is Inspired,” which is a true testament to the heart of the city. Whatever culture you currently find yourself in the mood to explore, Houston provides it. From Greek to Chinese to Japanese to Latin, you name it and chances are, you will find a unique spot or festival that brings you closer to this culture within Houston. In the mood for a little space exploration? A little drive down toward the coast will get you there.
This week was extremely heartbreaking to watch as my family and friends were personally affected by Hurricane Harvey, losing things they have been working for their entire lives. Amid the heartbreak, however, it was also inspiring to see those friends and family come together alongside complete strangers from all over the U.S. to help with water rescues and volunteer at shelters to help victims feel safe and protected. Through it all, the friendly spirit that Texas is known for has demonstrated hope and resilience in the face of catastrophe.
We still have a long road to go as far as recovery goes, beginning with the beautiful coastal areas of Rockport, Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, all the way down to Houston and well into the state of Louisiana. However, if the efforts are anything like what we’ve already seen this week, then Texas is sure in for an amazing journey.
If you are interested in helping with recovery efforts, here is a good list of where to begin.