Wednesday, 20 September 2017 18:58

COH employees lift their city out of the floodwaters

Written by Jane Cheeks
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Public Works and Engineering employees rescue residents on the high water protection barge. Public Works and Engineering employees rescue residents on the high water protection barge. Photo courtesy of Public Works and Engineering


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Harvey was not just a disaster, it was a trial. A crisis does that: it tries and tests you.

You can’t live and work in Houston and not have been affected by the unfathomable flooding in some way. The real test, though, is not what you go through, it’s how you come out of it.

I love the way you responded.

As the flood waters spread and rose, the world saw televised videos of first responders performing treacherous high-water rescues, the impromptu civilian navy ferrying stranded residents to solid ground, a collection of strangers rush to join hands, form a human chain and pull a man from his sinking vehicle.

What few saw were the OEM staff and 911 telecommunicators working through days, nights and fatigue to keep critical information and radio communications flowing; the PWE personnel who transported HPD and HFD to high-water rescues and manned water systems so residents would have safe drinking water; PWE-HR Safety and GSD personnel maintaining and assessing the safety of flooded city facilities; BARC animal control officers who cared for displaced pets through the storm; Solid Waste Management employees making seemingly ceaseless heavy trash runs, as people gut their flooded homes, while still resuming regular household garbage pickup citywide.

These are just a few of the countless other nearly unnoticed tasks performed at work, volunteer hours carried out in neighborhoods across the metro area, and acts of kindness directed at total strangers that will mark our course back from flooded disaster zone to whole Houston.

This big city has a great many attributes. But Houston is great because of you.

Earlier, I said I love the way you responded. Past tense. Let me correct that: I love the way you are responding. This is not over, and neither is your response. Rebuilding will go on for a long time, but not nearly as long as your spirit and capacity for generosity.

Many among our own City of Houston family are now working dual missions: not only performing their important jobs, but also working on their own flood-damaged homes.

These trying times reveal your true colors, making Houston a brighter, better, stronger community.