Texas is suffering immeasurable loss due to Hurricane Harvey and the tropical storms that followed. Houston has been hit very hard, which was predicted, although that does not make it any easier to deal with if you are one of those affected. Another Texas town, Beaumont, has also suffered extensive damage. Many are remembering Hurricane Katrina which almost destroyed New Orleans twelve years ago. While massive rain is expected to still hit New Orleans, it seems that the worst of this storm has occurred in Texas. The hearts of many are with those suffering from this massive storm, and my heart is one of them. I have a special relationship with both Beaumont, Texas and New Orleans.
It was Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of New Orleans that inspired my year of no spending, the journey of which is reported in my recently published book, A Year in the Life of a Recovering Spendaholic. An article about my journey and book was published in the Beaumont, Texas newspaper. Subsequently, that newspaper, the Beaumont Enterprise, published several other articles which I wrote on leadership topics. My articles have been published in many publications through the years. However, I think I have had more articles published by the Beaumont Enterprise than any other newspaper or magazine of which I am not a regular contributor. My relationship with Beaumont is on my mind while watching the news about Beaumont and other Texas towns suffering from Hurricane Harvey and the continuing rains.
Prior to my articles being published in the Beaumont Enterprise, I had no connection to Beaumont. My articles were submitted to many publications throughout the country. For some reason, they resonated with the editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. I have always been appreciative of this positive exposure. As I remember this now, there are several connections between Hurricane Harvey’s damage to Beaumont and my relationship with the town newspaper.
First, there is the connection of control or lack of it. We can be very prepared, and yet not be able to control an outcome. Texas was prepared for Hurricane Harvey, yet there was no way to prepare totally for Hurricane Harvey’s wrath nor the path it ultimately took. I believe many think that the same was not true for Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. On a much less important scale, although I submitted my articles to many publications, I had no control over which of those published my writings.
Another connection is that of preparation. Texas had time to prepare for Hurricane Harvey, and did, although perhaps some cities to a greater or lesser degree. These differences will likely be debated in the media for years to come. That was certainly true about New Orleans and Katrina, and perhaps those analyses have helped other cities prepare better for subsequent disasters. If I had been more prepared once my articles were published, I could have leveraged that exposure and had better outcomes. Again, my example pales in comparison to the example of Texas’ preparation for this major disaster.
There is also the connection of responsibility. Others should and do hold us accountable for certain behaviors when we have a connection to what is occurring. Pastor Joel Osteen of the Lakewood megachurch in Houston is one example. Pastor Osteen has been criticized for not opening the church as a shelter early enough, and no explaining away with rationale will probably satisfy those concerns. An apology might, but that has not occurred.
I feel a responsibility to do something for Beaumont, Texas, in appreciation for what the Beaumont Enterprise editor did for me. So, just this morning while thinking about my connection to Beaumont, I decided what I will do.
I will donate a portion of the proceeds of my book, A Year in the Life of a Recovering Spendaholic, to Beaumont. I do not want to make this decision impulsively, so I have not decided about the exact amount or percentage, or “how” and “when” it will be given. Both of these need further review. I am however, very clear about the “why” and “what.” When we are clear about the “why” and “what,” the “how” and “when” become clear. I feel strongly that my connection to Beaumont means that I have a responsibility to do something to help the people of Beaumont.
“To whom much is given, much will be required.”