I am an adopted Texan.
Originally I am from the west coast of Florida, Pinellas County to be exact. It’s the smallest county in the state and a peninsula that sits between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (That’s not my opinion, it’s that of the Travel Channel “World’s Best Beaches”).
As I write this, my hometown is hours away from taking a direct hit from Hurricane Irma.
When I moved to Texas I immediately was in search of a beach and Port Aransas is the place I decided would be my seaside getaway. My family and I go there quite a bit in the summer months and tend to stay at the same place, frequent the same restaurants and have made friends with some of the locals. Port A is my little reminder of the beach-side roots I left back in Florida.
With that little bit of background, this has been a tough couple of weeks for me. First Hurricane Harvey decimated my little slice of paradise on the Texas Coast. Today Hurricane Irma will plow into my hometown with a ferocity not seen in my lifetime. While I have been glued to the Weather Channel and the internet tracking the activities of the storms and those who prepare for them, there has been a common theme that resonates from Texas to Florida and everywhere in between in these times of peril.
First responders prepare for what could be days or weeks of non-stop work, saving lives and protecting property. Retailers prepare for the crush of sales as people stock up on whatever they can find on a store shelf. And blue collar workers who take care of our electricity, water and other vital needs gear up for unprecedented recovery efforts.
And while this hum of activity is happening all around us, what is the one thing that is absent from the lives of most Americans for the past few weeks?
Vitriol, hate, and division.
In the face of never before seen destruction on our shores, Americans from all walks of life have set aside their differences to start the long and tedious rebuilding process. Police, Firemen and everyday citizens in Houston didn’t ask a political affiliation before performing a rescue. Electrical linemen and public works employees didn’t restore services based on race. First responders in Key West and St. Petersburg didn’t care who you voted for in the last election as they went out to protect the public.
While our weather has shown how destructive mother nature can be when all of the right ingredients come together at the right time; Humanity has shown that when faced with adversity, we shed the barriers that divide us and come together in a fashion rarely seen.
My hat is off to Americans from all of our 50 states who have pooled resources to help Texas and now Florida. From cops to cooks, nearly everyone has played a role helping the recovery process in the past few weeks. You are the people that are the heart and soul of our nation and I hope we can see this sense of brotherhood during less trying times.
As Texans and Floridians, we are showing the world this week; our differences don’t define us. Our shared values and sense of decency do.
Until next time,
Eric Kaiser is the Chief of the Jourdanton Police Department.