Risk Services Of Arkansas - November 2017

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November 2017

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Hurricane Harvey

AND THE GENEROSITY OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT

“Sure, we’ll take you,” one of the four young men said. Warm rain, heated by the heavy Houston sun, beat down from above. It was early September, the tail end of Hurricane Harvey, and I’d asked the four guys if I could hitch a ride on their flat- bottomed fishing boat. I wanted to check out a rental property I owned in the center of the suburbs, assess the damage, and maybe recover a thing or two. It seemed unlikely, but this incredibly gracious team of twentysomethings was eager to help me out. In the middle of the storm, the only way to get around was by boat. The journey took us a solid 25 minutes as we navigated the surface of the submerged neighborhood. We had to keep an eye out for cars sunk beneath the surface — every now and then, the boat would bump one we’d missed, adding another scratch to the already beaten-up bottom. Houses were spray- painted with notes, letting volunteers know they’d already been evacuated. We chatted along the way. It turned out that these young kids, upon hearing of the rampant destruction the hurricane was wreaking, had driven 24 hours straight, all the way from Virginia, fishing boat in tow. Since they’d arrived, they’d spent almost every waking moment navigating the flood, evacuating folks stranded by the water, driving people back to their destroyed homes to help them retrieve whatever they could, and taking food and other necessities to families who’d migrated up to the second floor of their houses in the midst of the deluge.

These guys, none of whom I’d guess were older than 30, had traveled all this way, to a community to which they had no ties, solely to offer whatever aid they could muster. I was deeply moved by the stories they told me, by their perseverance, and by their generosity. When we finally made it to the house, a nice property I’ve owned for 20 years, it was obvious it was a lost cause. Eight and a half feet of water stood stagnating in the building, reaching almost all the way up to the top of the front entryway. It was completely surreal. None of the rental properties I own back in Houston, where I’m originally from, are located on any kind of floodplain, and they’d never suffered any kind of water damage in the past. Yet here was this house, half hidden beneath the surface. In the end, though I am sure my flood insurance isn’t quite enough to cover the costs — despite being in the industry! — it’s just stuff. It can be fixed. I’m fortunate that my kids, who live in the area, weren’t hurt, and that my tenants had already made it out just fine, though they lost everything. Tens of thousands of Houstonians are in the same situation — astronomical numbers of people who lost their homes and livelihoods in the path of the vicious storm. Certainly, Harvey was a tragedy of the greatest magnitude. But during the time I was there in my native city, I didn’t see many people succumbing to despair, lamenting all that they had lost. Instead, everywhere I looked, I witnessed stirring acts of kindness — a coming- together of the communal human spirit. I saw four young guys who drove over 1,200 miles just

to lend a hand. I saw neighbors pitching in to help homeowners gut and rebuild their broken houses. Lines of volunteers stretched around the block at nearly every aid center, waiting in line for hours just to get the chance to assist. Many local high school football teams were even driving around town, joining in with whatever project they saw that needed help. These days, stories of pain and struggle are everywhere. But in direct proportion to these horrific events we’re always hearing about are tales that embody the generosity of the American population as a whole, and the extent to which we’re willing to go to lend our support to those who are suffering. You never know what people are like until they’re put to the test. Praise the Lord for the many people who answer that call. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Houston made our country proud. Everywhere I looked, I witnessed stirring acts of kindness — a coming- together of the communal human spirit.”

– Brad Johnson

President, Risk Services of AR Specialized Insurance Programs For Specialized Industries. • www.insurica.com • 1

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