By Mike Wilcox
I never thought I would be writing this after the devastation that Hurricane Harvey wrought on Houston. But truth be told, this tragedy brought out the best in the human spirit. The feel-good stories that have resulted make me proud again, on this end of summer, to be an American.
Proud because there was one of NFL’s greatest defensive players not kneeling for the National Anthem, but leading the charge to contribute more than $18 million directly to the hurricane’s thousands of victims.
J.J. Watt and many of his Houston Texan teammates handed out food and provisions to displaced Houstonians. Watt said he wanted not just to raise money but insure it benefited the victims.
I’m not pointing fingers in this case, but sometimes larger charities, such as the Red Cross in Haiti, only pass out a portion of the donations they receive. Shame on them, but kudos to Watt. Eighteen million dollars is an enormous sum to raise in a week.
Many others Americans stepped up to the plate. As I was watching feel-good movie “Miss Congeniality,” I learned its lead actress, Sandra Bullock, was one of the first celebrities to donate to Harvey victims, to the tune of $1 million. I’m told Ellen DeGeneres matched that. Other celebrities kicked in also.
The owner of Houston’s biggest chain of furniture and mattress stores opened several of his locations, unlike mega-preacher Joel Osteen, to house victims who had their homes destroyed by the hurricane. Osteen said he couldn’t take in victims at his 15,000-seat church because of flooding concerns, but when several called him out he recanted later and opened the church doors.
Then there was President and First Lady Trump. Some of you will get on me for giving them praise, but my heart warmed when I saw the duo hand out supplies to victims. The spry President was doing some heavy lifting placing large containers into the back of pick-up trucks.
Granted, it was a terrific photo opportunity, but I believe they were genuinely pleased to help out. Amazingly, I have heard nothing from the mainstream media that has criticized the President and his government’s effort during the crisis. Maybe this is the event we needed to bring all sides together, at least on one topic.
While we are doing our part in the States, what has happened in Houston can’t be compared to what is happening in parts of India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Due to monsoon flooding in that part of the world, 1,200 people have died and millions have been displaced from their homes.
Flooding has been cruel to Bangladesh is particular. As owner of a newspaper in Hamtramck, which has a majority Bangladeshi population, I have heard many horror stories as a result of this catastrophe. Seven hundred people have died in there in the last two months: victims of the worst flooding the world has ever encountered.
We are fortunate in the States to have means to deal with catastrophic flooding. We are lucky so many Americans, many of whom never have been to Texas, are willing to reach deep in their pocketbooks to send money or needed items to help the victims.
I applaud all who have given so much of their time and fortune to show us that the American spirit will always be there in time of need.