Hurricane Harvey and readiness

Ready up … for hurricane season … and the ‘thief at night’

By Cynthia Brewer

Hurricane Harvey has come and gone, leaving so much destruction behind. At least 44 people have lost their lives as of Sept. 3, nine days after its landfall. Victoria, Texas, mercifully spared from severe damage still suffers as it is in its second week without drinkable water and many still have no power. Downed power poles and toppled trees litter the streets and curbsides.

Experts say economic costs could reach 160 billion dollars – making it the most expensive natural disaster to hit the United States.

The death toll could rise once the flood waters recede, although experts are not expecting it to even come close to Hurricane Katrina’s estimated death toll of 1,800 people. What helped Texans was today’s social media and communications and a more mobile population in Texas compared to New Orleans.

South Texans had the Weather Channel and knew almost exactly when and where the hurricane would hit. We were warned to be prepared over and over again.

Still, people lost their lives and hundreds needed rescuing by boat or helicopter, even after repeated warnings predicted record rainfalls that would cause major flood damage.

However, the low death rate could be an example of the population heeding the warnings. Maybe we did all we could to protect ourselves and our homes. The swollen rivers reached towns that had not been predicted to flood. The amount of rain that fell was twenty inches more than originally forecasted. Could we have prepared for that?

A lot of us rode out the storm relying on the strength of our home or relying on our faith, or both. I also think that we tend to believe–or hope–that we are invincible; it seems it’s just part of human nature.

I know; I was one of those who stayed in my home in Victoria, Texas, thinking that since my 120-year-old house was still standing after a century of threats, surely it would survive another. By the grace of God, it did. But at 4:00 a.m. I was saying my rosary as my house was buffeted by the powerful gusts, hoping we had prepared and protected our home enough.

About a week after the August 25 hurricane landfall, the Gospel reading at the August 31st daily Mass was a good reminder about preparation, not just of our homes, but for eternity.

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come’” (MT 24:42-44).

Are we prepared for the thief that will come when we least expect it?

Or do we act invincible toward God? Do we assume our lives are set right and that a heavenly reward is awaiting us upon our death?

Do we have a faithful trust in the mercy of God, or is it just a presumption that pearly gates will be open to all at the end of this life?

Or do we realize our spiritual life is in shambles, but figure we’ll take care of it … later? What if we don’t have a chance at later? This past week could have been the end for many of us living in South Texas.

Regardless of the early predictions of natural disasters or our doctor’s diagnosis of a healthy heart, each of us needs to be prepared for when “the thief” comes.  We can’t rely on predictions, and we can’t rely on others. The time for preparation is now. If we attend Mass regularly and/or read the Bible, we have been warned time and again.

Are we prepared? Are you? Am I?