As Houstonians reflect on the life-changing storm named Harvey, the singular word resilience seems to best fit our city at this time. Countless heart-wrenching stories came from every walk of life, and time and again the resonating theme is compassion. Some people that have lost everything insist they are “victors not victims” due to the selfless helping hand of so many caring neighbors, friends, and strangers. There were continuous news broadcasts reporting the heroic efforts of outstanding and courageous fellow Houstonians, but interwoven are numerous touching stories of people very simply lending a hand when and where it is was needed.
Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty Senior Vice President, Robin Conner’s husband, Ben, and his friend, Wes, seized the opportunity to lend a helping hand by using a red canoe to make numerous water rescues. Their neighborhood streets became launching sites for john boats, jet skis, kayaks, and skiffs. They assisted in rescuing the elderly parents of a MTSIR agent out of their 30-year old home, a MTSIR agent, her daughter, her parents and four dogs! When evacuees reached dry land, they were directed to cars driven by neighbors to take them to the closest church or shelter. Robin reports that it is all but impossible to recall how many people, dogs, cats, birds, or bags they helped evacuate. However, she does recall that one gentleman carried out 12 cages of birds!
MTSIR, Vice President, Seita Jongbloed and her family assisted evacuees in finding new clothes among donations, getting a meal, and taking care of their pets. One son served as a volunteer removing ruined large appliances from flooded homes, while Seita and another son helped with demolition at Ethans Glen. MTSIR Realtor, Walter Bering, was no exception to the compassionate spirit that immediately permeated the city. The evening after Harvey rolled through Houston, he hosted a “Good Riddance Harvey Pot Luck Dinner – Clothing Drive” at his home. It was a spontaneous idea due to his bare pantry, but the evening developed into a huge success with people bringing not only food, but clothing for the evacuees. The next morning, volunteer drivers delivered the supplies to St. John Divine Episcopal Church which served as a drop-off for the George Brown Convention Center. The motto for Walter’s party was “Chance of rain is 100%… Chance of Harvey bringing us down is 0%.” By the way, if you happen to see a middle aged man or woman wearing a Taylor Swift, Harry Potter or One Direction T shirt, just consider it a donation from Bonnie Bering’s closet.
And then there is the story of Andrew Luan, MTSIR IT Administrator, and his precious dog, Ninja. Andrew and his mom were rescued by the Coast Guard, but sadly Ninja was lost in the process. A week later, Andrew was given the good news that a neighbor had found Ninja and cared for him until they were reunited. Word has it Ninja would not leave Andrew’s side.
It has been 16 years this month since the 9/11 attacks. Somehow Harvey brings to mind the bond that was embraced that fateful day. Doubtless, our great city will rebuild and become even stronger and, yes, we claim that we are Houston Proud and Houston Strong!