Opinion

A heart bigger than Harvey

North Shore residents flew their true colors last week in response to the tremendous need for aid and relief required in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The megastorm slammed southeastern Texas and imprinted in the minds of people around the world images of grim-faced Texans wading through hip-deep water and huddling in truck beds or boats.

Hurricane Harvey’s assault on Houston and surrounding communities will take years to clean up and cost billions of dollars. But North Shore residents, including people living in Lynn and surrounding communities, stepped up to help complete strangers with food and financial donations and care and concern that is sure to stretch across the weeks and months as Texans and their neighbors rebuild.

North Shore residents, like everyone living in New England, know what it is like to face down daunting and devastating weather. The Blizzard of ’78 will mark its 40th anniversary next year but the giant snowstorm is still a detailed memory in the minds of millions of people.

Like Harvey or Katrina with their destructive winds and water-borne onslaught, the blizzard crashed into the Eastern United States with an avalanche of snow that covered cars for days and left people stranded on highways and in homes.

Photographs showing amphibious vehicles rescuing stranded residents bear similarities to the military trucks deployed to Texas to save people. Hurricanes have also wreaked havoc in New England with property damage and loss of life thankfully not as severe as the destruction experienced by Gulf Coast states.

No one has to travel from Lynn or Boston to Houston or fly from Texas to Massachusetts to appreciate how residents in both states share a common tenacity and capability to display courage in the face of natural disasters.

The disaster relief experts and medical personnel who spent weeks in New York City 16 years ago are the same ones, in more than a few cases, who drove to Texas last week or boarded planes to pitch in and provide assistance to firefighters, police officers, doctors and nurses in and around Houston.

Their work may last days or even weeks just as it did following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the reasons why people put their lives on hold to help others and why Americans are instinctively ready to help during a disaster remain the same even if the name of the hurricane or the nature of the tragedy varies.

No one wants to lose a home, a car or a loved one to a disaster. But calamities — natural and human-made — strengthen people and show them how to prepare for and survive the next challenge. Mass tragedies also forge a bond of strength, support and unity that outlive even massive challenges like Hurricane Harvey and the Blizzard of ’78.

Texans will thank Bay Staters this week, including North Shore residents, for their selfless contributions and the time is sure to come when Massachusetts residents will thank the Lone Star state for its helping hands and big hearts.

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