The rain came down with a vengeance. There was no escape. The once lively streets had been deserted, the traffic lights flashed its colors to an empty audience. Stop signs that had once stood tall lay sprawled across wilted grass. Cars sat abandoned in the middle of roads, water rushing through the windows. Man was losing its ultimate battle against nature, helpless to stop the destruction of homes, of families, and of lives.
That night, every person in America watched in silence as Harvey destroyed my city. Our city. Tweets were sent, hashtags were created, dollars were donated and yet, the helplessness remained.
That night, news channels replayed the horror stories and the devastation over and over and over. These images became the new perception of Houston. Parents hugged their children a little tighter, doing their best to protect them from this new world filled with pain.
That night, strangers were bonded together by the common thread of suffering. Everyone had a story of loss to share. Someone lost a house, another person lost a business. Age, religion, gender, ethnicity-- none of that mattered. Nature did not discriminate. Everyone had been affected.
That night, ordinary men and women stepped up and became heroes. Neighbors were helping neighbors. People were bringing in boats from all over the United States to help their fellow Americans. Blankets, clothes, food-- donations poured in.
That night, people lost their homes, their livelihoods, their families, but they did not lose their identities. They did not lose their character. A story of hopeless suffering had become a story of heroism and unity.
The next morning, the sun peeked out over the horizon expecting to see the destruction Harvey had left in its wake. Instead, the sun was greeted by smiles of relief and gratitude on faces that had been marred by desolation mere hours before. The downpour of rain had passed, the sun had risen. The spirit of Houston had never been stronger.
So when Jose Altuve threw to first base and sealed the Astros' win, the yells and the shouting and the cries of absolute joy were not just about baseball. It was about a city rising up, beating the obstacles nature had placed in its way. Every excuse was made available to Houston to just roll over and accept defeat. But the Astros had found a way to pick up the pieces. To show everyone across America to never bet against Houston. To never doubt the resilience and the absolute heart of Houston.
The Astros showed everyone that if they could come back from 100-loss seasons and win the World Series, that Houston could come back from Harvey and be stronger than ever before.
Believe me when I say, Houston Strong is not just a catchy tagline. It's a way of life.