I live in League City, a near suburb Southeast of Houston, and well within the incredible swath of devastation that Harvey wreaked upon the area. I’m so grateful that due to good engineering - and good luck - the vast majority of homes in my neighborhood escaped flood damage. Despite the fact that 50 inches of rain was dumped on us over the course of just a few days.
But many tens of thousands around here were not so lucky. Although the flood waters South of Houston receded within a day or two, I’ve now seen firsthand what they can do to a home - even if it doesn’t wrench the house from its moorings. Black and green mold begins growing on every baseboard and piece of furniture touched by water. Drywall acts like a sponge, drawing up filthy wetness like a vampire drinking tainted blood.
Houston will take years to recover. My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones, and to the many who may never recover from the financial disaster that stems from losing your home and possessions.
One of the things I was fortunate enough to witness during this tragedy is the heroic nature that lurks just beneath the surface of so many people. Our local middle school was transformed into a shelter before the rain even stopped falling, and the volunteer slots filled so quickly that I had to hustle in order to get on the list. I worked with several crews of volunteers to help out homeowners hit by flood, ripping up flooring, vacuuming water, washing contaminated dishes, and hauling mountains of trash to the curb.
And of course the most high profile example of heroism was The Cajun Navy, who rushed in from neighboring Louisiana. A loose collection of good samaritan boat owners, ready to risk life and limb to pluck strangers from the raging flood waters.
The desire to be heroic exists within all of us. To put yourself to the test for a higher purpose. To risk life and limb for the tribe. It’s a shame that it takes a crisis to bring that out of humanity. I think our senses are less attuned to recognize the slow-moving disasters of hunger, poverty, isolation, long-term unemployment, opiate addiction, etc. etc. etc. And our world is so big it just doesn’t feel like we’re all passengers on the same boat.
As an entrepreneur, I’m reflecting on how to make a small contribution towards changing that feeling of isolation from others. To make us feel a part of the same tribe, and to unleash the hero that lies within. For all their noble attempts, I’m afraid that Twitter and Facebook may actually be exacerbating the problem.
Not an easy task. The Affinity is just a first attempt - more to come.