Turn to any news channel on television and you can see the devastation occurring all around you. Your jaw drops and you bring your hand to your mouth while trying to comprehend all of the damage. Do you know anybody in those areas? Have you ever taken a vacation to any of the places? Is your mind racing to see how this is going to affect your life or how it is going to affect your well being?
Are you feeling helpless? I am. Even though there are so many ways to help, it is hard to know what exactly you are supposed to do.
Last Tuesday, I left the boat to spend a week down in Rockport, Texas with Team Rubicon assisting with relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey. It was an incredible experience, that I am still personally debriefing with myself, so I am finding it hard to put into words.
For those who have never heard of Team Rubicon, it is an organization that pairs the skills of military veterans with kickass civilians to provide rapid help across the world. There are so many different situations in which Team Rubicon deploys teams to respond to disasters, this happened to be my first time being deployed with them, on Operation Hard Hustle, in Rockport, Texas.
The little amount of news that I do watch, is mostly to be aware of the weather in the places that we are slowly making our way towards on the boat. And with all the hurricanes and tropical storms, RJ and I have been watching the news a lot more than is typical for us.
Even with the amount we were watching, before going to Rockport, I hadn’t heard much about it. I knew about all the flooding in Houston, and that was about it. As I was boarding the plane and heading south, and even getting off of the plane in Corpus Christi, I still was unsure of what I was going to encounter.
Walking to airport ground transportation, I was greeted by a few fellow Greyshirts (what Team Rubicon volunteers refer to themselves as), as we piled into a truck and headed to Rockport, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall. The majority of the damage in this area was wind damage.
Without going into too much detail, because as I said, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how I am feeling, I can say that this short experience has changed everything for me.
I spent a week using a chainsaw every single day to help with the removal of fallen trees in people’s yards. I spent a week dragging debris across yards either to the curb, or to the heavy equipment that was going to transport the debris to the curb. I spent the week getting to know numerous other incredible individuals with the same goal as me: to help others.
What else is there to being a human?
It would have been incredibly easy for me to not go, to sit on our boat, and continue our trip, without a second thought.
Now, it will be hard. I am going to wake up and wonder why I get to be so lucky, when there are so many people who are not.
I can find strength in the fact that while I was in Texas, I got to be a part of a team that completed over 40 work orders on people’s homes. And I can find more strength in the knowledge that there were more teams out there than just the one that I was a part of.
While I enjoyed getting covered in alternating layers of sweat and sawdust, there are many more ways to help than through physical labor. You can donate time by volunteering for an organization to call donors remotely, from any location, to thank them for their contribution. You can donate money, ideally to local organizations in the area of the disasters (do your research!). You can donate knowledge. Maybe you don’t have enough money or enough time to do much help other than researching organizations for others to donate and be a part of. All it takes is a couple internet searches and posting it to your social media pages.
There is so much help needed and so much help that you can give. Lend a helping hand anywhere that you can.