Texas, One and Indivisible
In the aftermath of a hurricane, the visible devastation garners the bulk of initial attention. Where communities of schools and homes once stood now stand debris mountains of sheetrock, wood, and home appliances. Highways and interstates that once served as the yellow brick road commuters followed on their way to build the Emerald Cities of Texas suddenly lie at the bottom of eerily still bodies of water like forgotten, sunken treasure ships. In just one August weekend, Texas found itself the helpless victim to the undeserving wrath of a furious storm. When the rain stopped and the clouds parted, the naked eye could not help but focus on the overwhelming destruction. Texas looked broken.
However, as the cameras zoomed in, a different narrative started to unfold. Total strangers turned local heroes reached out their hands to neighbors without hesitation or a second thought. Like a scene out of Dunkirk, a Civilian Navy formed, gassed up their boats, and headed to drowning cities and towns to save people they had never met. The nation, and the world, looked on as Texas displayed the true face of altruism and selflessness. Feelings of humility and pride fell over the state and suddenly, a deeper revelation was exposed.
Texas was not broken. Texans were not defeated. Harvey had revealed our strength. Harvey had forced Texas to show those looking in what sincere unity looks like and the kind of miracles that happen when people truly come together for a greater good. In short, Harvey introduced the world to Texas.
Aggieland Outfitters witnessed first-hand the moving eagerness to help as our BTHO Harvey t-shirt sold out in stores over just a couple of hours. In addition, over 1500 online orders swept the web and in just 24 hours, the generosity of the Aggie family raised well over $17,000. In the first 72 hours, that number climbed to over $25,000 and only continues to grow as the Spirit of Aggieland stands with those recovering to work toward a feeling of normalcy.
Donning his own BTHO Harvey t-shirt, famed NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, a co-recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom best known for managing Apollo 13, visited the Dickinson Police Department to thank the first responders, dispatchers, and city employees who worked tirelessly in response to the devastating floods. Kranz himself had to be rescued from his home as the flood waters closed in. He described the event as:
“An experience truly of people helping people… That’s exactly what it was. You just sit down and think about all of the people who came together, without too much pre-coordination, and all of a sudden, they started working together to get things done. There are people who watch things happen, wonder what happen, but these are the people who make things happen.”
While Mr. Kranz is not an original member of the Aggie family himself, he is an Aggie by association through his granddaughter Hayley Krueger of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2015.
“I picked up a bunch of shirts… on my way home from Lubbock to help my family and friends [in Dickinson] clean up from Harvey. I saw first hand this weekend the devastation that Harvey caused and all donations are going to help rebuild these wonderful towns. I'm so blessed to be a part of the Aggie family.”
Aggieland escaped the brunt of Harvey’s anger, scraping by with just a little rain and slight winds, leaving residents and students desperate to do what they could to help. Helpless seemed to be the only word to most accurately describe the feeling of having to watch from the sidelines as their friends and family suffered through indescribable devastation.
Bailey Collinsworth, a senior A&M student, describes the situation as, “[It was] Frustrating because we couldn’t travel to the affected areas yet but we didn’t want to sit by and do nothing so that’s what the BTHO Harvey shirts meant to me. It was a way for me to do what I could at that point.”
For me, wearing the BTHO Harvey shirt meant beyond just that the profits were going to help those affected. It was a statement. It was a symbolic way to show those going through so much that we support you and we’re thinking of you, you’re not alone in this,” adds Danny Ochoa, a graduate student at Texas A&M.
For Dillon Moore a normal back to school trip to pick up new t-shirts for the year turned into an unexpected moving exchange with a total stranger.
“I was actually in [Aggieland Outfitters] to get some new t-shirts when I struck up a conversation with someone who was a flood victim who had just evacuated and was staying in College Station. They didn’t have any ties to A&M or Aggieland but they needed to get out of their hotel room to stop their mind from dwelling on all that was going wrong back at home and saw something online about the BTHO Harvey shirts. They were buying the shirt because it felt like all they could do to help their neighbors until they could get back home.”
Hurricane Harvey took an uppercut to Texas at a time when it can seem we witness more division than unity, more hate than love, and more selfishness than generosity. Aggieland Outfitters is proud to stand with those who showed the world what unity truly resembles and we want to thank you for allowing us to be part of your lives. You sincerely BTHO Harvey and you will all be in our thoughts and prayers as you work toward normalcy. To those no longer with us -- Here.
There’s a spirit can ne’er be told; it’s the Spirit of Aggieland.
Gene Kranz quote credits to i45NOW News Station, League City, TX
Photo credit to National Aeronautic and Space Administration
Photo credit to Julie Hardcastle of Dickinson, Texas