Sustaining compassion – nearing the end of a week….

Prior posts on Houston flood: here and here.


This mornings e-mail included a photo with very brief text from Sean in Houston at 6:48 a.m.

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Houston TX 6:45 a.m. Aug. 31, 2017

The message was terse: “18 wheeler loaded w fans at Home Depot at 6:45 a.m. Thirty people in line.”

As Sean was sending the photo, I was at my favorite waking-up coffee shop. It was 57 degrees here, and sort of chilly and breezy, but otherwise a beautiful, carefree sunshiny day. Today was our day to go to the Minnesota State Fair, and as I was looking at the photo, I was thinking about how to dress for the Fair – should I wear a sweater, or take a jacket?

There was a certain incongruity: Down in Houston there was apparently a run on the market for fans.

For us, the prospect of an almost perfect day.

It is simple, I think, to retreat into ones individual circumstances, especially if carefree, even temporarily. It is not helpful, either, to get overwhelmed by every one else’s problems. Somewhere there needs to be found a balance.

The tropical storm that hit Houston and a very large area is an immense and continuing problem. Today’s front page in our local Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Health risks luck in Harvey’s water.” We see only the tiniest snips of the reality within which people in Houston are living.

What to do? Going forward: Sean made a good comment about what we could do a couple of days ago (see end of the link).

Today at 4:03 p.m., Sean’s Mom in Rochester NY (and my sister), sent her own e-mail, as follows: “Hi all…communication into and out of a disaster area is lumpy at best but Sean did send a note Wednesday (yesterday) and of course just re-confirmed the reality of impact and anticipated long process of clean up. I don’t expect to hear much, just continuing to trust that they are able to stay safe in their home and will not see the immediate area flood again as the reservoirs are de-stressed.

Houston certainly looks clear and sunny today but I have to take the TV commentaries in small doses – always a surreal feeling for a mom and grandma to know loved ones are impacted and truly not be able to physically help.

Thanks so much for your notes and your thoughts and prayers. That’s a big piece of the answer to the question ‘how can we help’. I am personally humbled by the numbers of friends I have who have family in the Houston area and by the sporadic reports of the positive community efforts in the face of this enormous tragedy. As you, I am doing what I can through trusted relief agencies and churches. The needs will continue for a long time.

I know Sean and Simone have many priorities right now but that they appreciate the time we are taking to think of them and their community. I sincerely believe that they are progressing on the return to whatever the new normal will be in their neighborhood.

And in their lives.”


Personally, I say we’re all in community, everywhere, and we best never lose sight of that simple essential. What affects others, affects us.

We can’t solve everybodies problems, but we certainly can do small and large things to help make our world a little bit better every day.

(And by the way, the State Fair was good too. The annual “fix” is over for another year.)

I suspect that the better instincts of “community” will stick together in all sorts of ways to keep helping out Houston…and Mumbai…and Bangladesh (both suffering their own tragedies from water in recent days.) Yes, there will be abundant scams and outrages and all, but let’s look at the good.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

from Sean, 6:48 p.m. Aug 31: “People were walking house to house delivering pizza and chocolate chip cookies (different people) everyone just trying to help.

Need to gut our old house tomorrow-surreal. I would send pics but I feel like a ghoul.”

from Sean 11:47 a.m. Sep 2: People delivering hotdogs.

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from Mary, 6:14 p.m. Sep 2: Hello to all…cloudy and rainy here in Fairport New York as some of the remnants of Harvey make their way into our atmosphere. Otherwise, our info on the aftermath continues to be snippets and sound bites from news briefs.

I did speak with Sean for a few minutes this afternoon . He and [family] are still at home o… and one of the biggest residual storm impacts right now is first a ghost town of a neighborhood and second the sporadic internet, telephone and television services. They have electricity, they have water. Many of their immediate neighbors have been able to relocate themselves to apartments in the area and will use them as homes until repairs can be approved and completed. Most anticipate months before a return to living as it looked before Saturday, August 26. Waters in the area are slowly receding but still impact activity.

Sean and friends worked yesterday with demolition contractors as their ‘old’ home on Linkwood was gutted. I can only imagine how surreal that experience is….to have eaten pancakes and taken baths in a home that was beautiful ranch home and now looks to be in the very early stages of sloppy construction. Mold threats are very real in this area and the sooner the ‘wet stuff’ is removed, the better.

Sean and Simone are optimistic that school … will start again this week for [the kids]. Be good for the kids to get back to a routine.

Sean does send all of us a big caution, however, and that is a very real awareness that there will continue be a serious interruption in gasoline production and distribution and as the supplies run low..likely within a week, the lack of gas and the increase in price will be realities all over the United States. I am not seeing much about this on the news channels but I do not doubt for a minute it is real….energy is Sean’s business and he watches it closely.

Message: Fill up and stay put! Road trips need to be on the way back burner….never mind the rest of the energy sucking activities that we become complacent in doing.

They continue to find support from the outpourings of good will as you can see by that impromptu delivery of hot dogs and cookies that was random, unsolicited but meaningful and appreciates. As with other tragedies, the struggle is to remember those impacted over the long haul.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

from Sean, 9:52 a.m. Sep 3: Some areas will have water for another two weeks – west Houston is still under mandatory two week evacuation. Far from normal.

155 schools had severe damage – some won’t open this year. Will send pics of our gutted home later today. Along with the “before” pictures.

NOTE from Dick: Houston is semi-tropical climate, and the threat from mold is ever present, which means that flood damage has to be removed as quickly as possible.

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One of several photos from Sean, 9:52 a.m. Sep 3

from Sean 2:17 p.m. Sep 3:

from Sean, one of 15, 6:42 p.m., at their former residence:

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