I remember the acrid smell of something broken. Salty, sour, it permeated the Gulf Coast air like the scent of some fading electrical fire, or burnt gunpowder perhaps. A battle between sky, sea and land with humans in the crucible.
Looking out across a nearly empty motel parking lot, broken glass dully shone in the morning light. An early morning haze blanketed the wounded sky. A haunted sky, not yet ready for the sunshine to plunge through the mask of the remnants of the hurricane. There had been only one room habitable in the one operating motel in Rockport, Texas. No power, no running water, but I’d taken it, as I’d need rest for the long days ahead.
Only two days before, I’d watched- with much of the rest of the world, as Hurricane “Harvey” had slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast with a powerful banshee fury. As I watched the news coverage, I felt a deep hurt growing inside me, feeling helpless as the carnage unfolded.
I knew the autistic persons I serve each day, particularly children- with their unique sensory challenges would be thrown about in awful, hidden ways as the storm tore apart their sense of security and overloaded their already overloaded Caregivers.
As I intensely poured over news, social media, I looked for responses which would directly impact, give hope and encouragement to these persons and their families. While many necessary items were being assembled, merciful aid was dispensed even hours after the brutal passing of the hurricane, the personal, one-to-one encouragement for the most vulnerable was sorely lacking.
Something simply had to be done, and I steeled my resolve to answer the hatefulness of Hurricane Harvey, and show up for frightened, hurting persons.
Working with a lunatic urgency, I pleaded for donations, recruited a dozen volunteers, and together we assembled backpacks containing food, snacks, toys, books, incredibly soft blankets and more. We were ready and time was calling out, the “time for being fully present is now”.
All the backpacks were ready, even as the dark skies of the Texas Gulf Coast were lit up with…