Counting my blessings

As all of you already know, Houston and coastal Texas cities recently experienced one of the worst hurricanes in history. Hurricane Harvey not only caused major devastation to so many neighborhoods throughout Houston, but also to families who sadly lost everything. The hashtag “#blessed” has become extremely popular over the past couple years, and most frequently is used in ironic situations when one doesn’t necessarily need to count their blessings. This has been the first time in a while where I am quite literally thanking God for we are #blessed.

Steven, Luna and I are very fortunate to have remained safe and dry throughout the duration of this storm. We live on the first floor of an apartment complex with a back porch that is slightly elevated in comparison to the ground outside of the complex. While preparing for the storm we realized that we definitely could see flooding due to the flat area we live in and taped up doors and kept an eye on the drain outside of our apartment just in case or overflowed. We still had about 5 to 7 inches of vertical height that the rain would need to rise before entering our doorway.

When the rain finally died down yesterday, I took Luna for a long walk and took a look at the spillway that is not even a quarter mile from our apartment. This ditch is usually only filled with a couple feet of water on an average day, or none on the longer draughts we have from rain. When I approached it yesterday I was desperately hoping it would not be very filled with water as if it overflowed, that water could eventually make its way to many homes nearby. Thankfully, it was not as filled as I expected and overall rose maybe 15 to 20 feet if I had to guess, but my estimation skills are crap so don’t quote me on that.

I can’t really express in words just how truly grateful I am for that. I am also grateful for all the friends and family members who called or texted to check in on us while the storm was going on. We pale in comparison to the number of people who experienced really scary circumstances over the last couple days…and that breaks my heart. I have seen photos of dogs left behind, tied up in the flood waters, of families carrying babies to get to rescue boats; it puts a lot into perspective for me. My heart broke every time I saw a new photo shared on reddit of dogs left behind. I wanted to cry over and over again. My tears were (and still are) coming from not only a place of gratitude for what I have but also empathy for I know that the people who had to leave behind their loved ones did not do so lightly…

Source: reddit

 

Source: abc news

I spent a lot of time stuck inside reflecting on that gratitude and asking God to help those who really need it, to end the what seemed like endless rain. The only thing that really kept me hopeful was seeing how many people came together to help those in need. I know people who left their children in the care of others (they were safe and sound and dry, thankfully) to get in a boat to rescue others who were stranded. Talk about selfless…I also know others who took in dogs that belonged to other families who couldn’t bring them along to shelters wouldn’t allow animals, businesses opened their doors as extra shelter for evacuees. It warmed the heck out of my heart to see this unfold on social media and on the news.

Just to give you an idea of the type of damage Houston and other affected cities saw, here are a handful of photographs showing the damage and the number of people who were hurting AND helping during the hurricane.

Since Steven and I were sheltered in place during the storm, we were unable to give physical help and aid to those who need it. I have a handful of friends and family who have reached out to me and many other people out of state may not know how or who to donate to help if they are not physically here to do so. So, below I have compiled a list of links to various charities and organizations that you can peruse to see if there is any cause you feel most strongly about. You can bet your bottom I will be donating to an animal rescue of some sort, whether that be a fiscal donation or donating dog food or crates, etc.

Various Charities Collecting Donations for Hurricane Harvey

  • Catholic Charities, Recovery for Hurricane Harvey
    “The Texas bishops are coordinating efforts with Catholic Charities USA and local civic authorities. This page will be updated as the situation develops. Currently we request people join in prayer for the coastal and inland areas being affected, and consider donating money to local dioceses and Catholic Charities.”
  • Texas Diaper Bank
    “Texas Diaper Bank currently provides over 1 million diapers annually to over 14,000 babies in Bexar County. However with almost 40,000 babies suffering from diaper insufficiency in Bexar County the organization needs more diapers to meet this essential basic need.”
  • NY Times List of Local and National Organizations to donate to
    As with any monetary giving, do your research to make sure you are giving to a cause that you believe in. I’m not sure how much of each donation goes straight to the Harvey relief, but just be aware some organizations have to recoup administrative fees and what not too, so if you want your donation to do more, look into the details and breakdown each charity has for their donations. This NY Times article has a good description of what I am referring to above. Please give it a read before you donate.
There are also countless small business owners who are giving anywhere from a small portion of proceeds to 50% of sales to even ALL sales during a certain time frame to relief services. I have seen them all over Instagram and Facebook so if you’d prefer to give to a small business, that is another option.
Source: @Poppyandpinecone
I will be counting my blessings every day after seeing this storm’s destruction and coming out with no bruises. I spent these rainy days cuddling with Luna on the couch, taking opportunities to go outside with her when the rain let up a little bit. Steven and I were able to run to the grocery store a couple of times, we had food and we never lost power. Most if not all of my friends were safe and sound, too and for that I am truly grateful.
 
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