Growing up I never knew a person named Harvey. I only knew that name as the title of a 1950 movie. Harvey was Jimmy Stewart’s invisible friend, a 6′ 3″ rabbit.
As a result of the past several days, the name Harvey will go down in American history not as an imaginary four-legged friend but as a horrible hurricane that left in its wake untold destruction and devastation. It first came ashore Saturday, August 26, in Rockport, Texas as a category four hurricane, lost wind velocity, and was re-designated category one, then tropical storm.
Winds gusting up to 130 mph wreaked huge damage on several coastal cities. Homes, hotels, buildings, businesses, vehicles and boats were damaged and destroyed.
Harvey eventually moved north and east along the Gulf Coast. It impacted 350 miles of coastline from Corpus Christi to Louisiana, including Galveston, Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and many smaller outlying communities, leaving up to 60″ of torrential flood-producing rainfall in its path.
Harvey’s economic impact is huge. Hundreds of thousands have widespread damage to homes and possessions, many with no flood insurance. They are left to pick up the pieces of their lives.
Relatively few people appear to have lost their life in this historic storm. That’s miraculous, considering the fact that millions of people live in Harvey’s path of thousands of square miles.
Ironically, this past Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 affected the Gulf Coast from central Florida to eastern Texas, especially devastating New Orleans and Mississippi coastal towns. For many, Harvey is a reminder of past tragedy and trauma.
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Although devastating natural disasters like Harvey raise lots of questions in my mind about the will of God, here are a few thoughts and observations, some original, some borrowed, some inspired:
- People from across the country came to Texas to help, bringing together, face-to-face, women and men of differing race, nationality, and religious preference.
- Individuals and corporations pitched in, offering financial and in-kind resources where needed.
- Providing such care and life-saving assistance makes me believe that America is not what happened in Charlottesville. America is what is happening in Houston and beyond.
- Following the Old Testament flood, God provided a rainbow as a promise that never again would he send a flood to destroy the earth or all living creatures. Gen. 9:11
- In Old Testament prophet Elijah’s presence the Lord was not in a wind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in a still, small voice, a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12
- Jesus calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee with a word of rebuke. Matt. 8:26
- God’s promise: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you … For I am the LORD your God, your Savior.” Is. 43:1-3