It would be entirely possible to drive into Houston, spend the day there, even stay in a hotel downtown and leave the next day without noticing one of the largest disasters in American history had just happened. What happened in Houston is not photogenic, but somehow the devastation is nearly total. Your friends and family whose houses didn’t flood were luckily on one of the remaining islands of dry land that constituted Houston from the 26th-29th. Houston is massive, southeast Texas is even more massive. For reference, the Houston metro is about the same size as Massachusetts, and the Houston metro was just some of the area hit by the massive storm that made landfall only to sit there, days at a time. From Corpus Christi to Galveston to Port Arthur to Beaumont (where a water crisis still looms), entire lives must be started over. Supposedly some checks for $2000 have been cut by FEMA to a token amount of those affected. Only the convention center is functioning as a Red Cross shelter, supposed shelters in the neighborhoods are non-existent. The absurdly overwhelming bulk of work ahead in post-Harvey southeast Texas will not be handled by FEMA, Red Cross or the large NGOs, but will be carried by those affected, their neighbors and friends. With Irma heading towards land, it’s apparent that helping out others isn’t charity but a necessity on the Gulf Coast, as it very well could be you next.

(If yall are down, it would be sweet to plug the broad coalition of aid groups I’ve been working with… )