Culture

The Texas Model of Disaster Recovery

The scenes of people helping people are enough that even the Beltway media are taking notice.

Nate Jackson · Sep. 4, 2017

More than a week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, there are still many storylines from Houston and the surrounding area. The enormous economic cost is certainly one of the most dominant, as is the human toll — 45 confirmed deaths, a number that will likely grow. And as we warned a week ago, the mainstream media has tried to politicize the hurricane to make Donald Trump look bad, though they’ve been largely unsuccessful. We also relayed early on the heartwarming stories of people helping people through the torrential rain and resulting catastrophic flooding.

As the water recedes, that story hasn’t changed. Even Beltway media establishments like The Washington Post can’t help but take note. The Post reports about one woman who began using social media to coordinate response efforts, saying, “[She] was part of an unprecedented do-it-yourself relief effort that came to define Hurricane Harvey. After the storm blew into Houston, a remarkable network of boat owners with smartphones, worried neighbors with laptops and digital wizards with mapping software popped up to summon and support an army of Good Samaritans who motored, rowed and waded into dangerous waters to save family, friends and total strangers.” In fact, the Post notes, “The ‘We the People’ response seemed distinctly Texan, an outgrowth of the state’s almost genetic disinclination to rely on the government for anything — and in some cases, resolute willingness to defy it.”

And then in a line almost guaranteed to make a reader spew coffee, the Post — The Washington Post — says “no government response could ever have been enough.”

Now that’s not in any way to diminish the valiant rescue and recovery efforts of local law enforcement, National Guard, Coast Guard, FEMA or any other government agency, but it is to say government is government, and that means sometimes slow and bloated. Citizens working on their own behalf are always more agile, and helping your neighbor will always be more personal than processing applicant number 8,042 in a government wait line.

Case in point: the argument in Washington about how to fund relief efforts. Funding anything at the federal level is always an exercise in partisan posturing, and this is no different. Should the billions in Harvey relief be a clean bill, or should it be tied to the upcoming debt ceiling hike? Republicans disagree on that question, never mind Democrats. There will be much theater on that subject in the coming days and weeks, but in the meantime, Texans are pulling up their own bootstraps.

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