The National Weather Service tweeted out an unusually blunt warning regarding Hurricane Harvey: “This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.” The storm had already torn up the Gulf Coast when it made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane two days earlier. In the days that followed, as it dumped rain on Houston and the surrounding areas, the impact became clearer. Harvey would prove lethal—as of press time it had killed more than seventy people across Texas—and estimates of the damage have soared as high as $190 billion, which would make the storm the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.
Harvey was certainly, in Texas, unprecedented in its scale and beyond anything experienced. But what the NWS could not have predicted was the extraordinary response the storm would generate. Perhaps no other event in our history has revealed so vividly what Texans are capable of, and who we are. We help our neighbors, protect our families, and believe we can bounce back from just about anything. The devastation brought out not only our best, it brought out the best in our state’s neighbors. God bless the Cajun Navy! Were it not for the bravery and generosity of countless everyday people, many more would surely have died.
We had a totally different issue of the magazine planned for you this month. Harvey changed that. We scrapped much of what we had slotted and instead created something that documents and memorializes this singular event. It is an incomplete report, of course—Harvey’s effects will be felt for years to come—but what we hope we’ve captured in our special feature package (“Voices from the Storm”) is the story of the storm, as seen through the eyes of 28 people who were directly affected. It’s a story of destruction and hope, loss and recovery, fear and courage. It’s a story of real people, from different places and different backgrounds, who lived through something they—and we—will never forget.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to report on Harvey’s impact, online and in print. In Houston and all along the Gulf Coast, the long process of rebuilding has just begun. texas monthly intends to be part of that effort, both in our reporting and through volunteering. We still don’t know what the full impact of Harvey will be, but we know this: if we rely on and look out for one another, there’s practically nothing we Texans can’t handle.