This week, the Greater Houston area experienced another round of severe flooding. This time, however, the impact of the flooding was worse than anything we had seen in over 15 years.
According to officials, the flooding that took place in the Greater Houston area this week was the worst that has taken place since Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001. It was so bad that Texas Governor Greg Abbot declared a state of disaster for the Greater Houston area and other counties in surrounding areas. More than 1,000 homes were flooded and to date, at least six people have been confirmed dead related to the flooding.
While flooding doesn’t discriminate as to who is impacted and is extremely diverse when it comes to who becomes a casualty, it was clear to me that there were some tremendous disparities concerning the level of response that African Americans in certain areas of the Greater Houston area received versus that of Whites who lived in some of the more affluent areas of Houston.
People in the Greenspoint area, located near 45 North Freeway and Beltway 8, found themselves without rescue boats and means to escape the flood waters without assistance.
People in the area had to be creative and resourceful in order to assist those who had no real means to help themselves. People used refrigerators and containers and other things to transport children, senior citizens and others to safety.
Black people are some of the most resourceful and resilient people on the planet. We will figure out a way to survive – by any means necessary.
During this entire flooding ordeal, however, it was hard to ignore the level of resources that were dispatched to areas such as Meyerland, River Oaks, Memorial, etc. The optics surrounding the response times and resources used were strikingly different in many cases, but there were some things that significantly stood out to me. I learned a lot about the state of the Black community.
What the recent flooding here in Harris County showed me was that the majority of predominately African American communities are NOT collectively prepared to handle or address any type of crisis or disaster – natural or man-made.
There is no way to predict what Mother Nature will do and the level of calamity that will come our way as a result of any natural disaster, but the one thing we can always do is be ready and prepared for whatever comes our way.
Black people are too collectively reliant upon people and the government to take care of us when circumstances become dire and when we are in our weakest and most vulnerable position – I mean completely dependent upon the local, county, state and federal government to do for us.
That is insane!
I heard some Black people blaming the newly elected mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, as if it was his fault that God allowed more than 17 inches of rain to fall in the Greater Houston area in less than a 24-hour period. They felt like his response time was too slow and that more resources should have been disbursed in order to deal with this unanticipated level of flooding.
We should have learned a lot from Tropical Storm Allison, as well as from another high-profile catastrophic event – Hurricane Katrina.
The impact of this flooding was nothing compared to that of Hurricane Katrina, but Black people still should have learned their lesson from that past experience.
It took local, county, state and federal officials over five days to provide any substantive assistance and significant resources for the tens of thousands of Black people who had been trapped in the city of New Orleans with seemingly nowhere to go.
I always asked myself, how could that many Black people, realistically find themselves in that type of vulnerable position, where they could be stranded for over five days with NO food, NO water, NO transportation, NO shelter, NO money, NO security and absolutely NO plan to address the lack of those things? While it continues to baffle me, it doesn’t surprise me.
If you take a look at nearly every major aspect of our lives, we don’t collectively have control.
- Do we have collective control over the education of our children? NO!
- Do we have collective control over our healthcare? NO!
- Do we have collective control over our food and water? NO!
- Do we have collective control over politics, legislation, the justice system and the courts? NO!
- Do we have collective control over mass transportation? NO!
- Do we have collective control over what happens to us in the face of crisis or disaster? NO!
After seeing what happened in Greenspoint, I made it a point to reach out to my brother Captain Khalid Greene with the Department of Inner-City Emergency Response (D.I.C.E.R.) in order to ensure Black people in the Greater Houston area are not caught slipping like this ever again. Their signature program, the Inner-City Emergency Response Team (IN-C.E.R.T.), became operational in 2005 during Hurricane Rita, and is a non-profit organization focused on strengthening the community through hands-on preparation, education, and training to handle future natural disasters, as well as day-to-day community issues.
In speaking with Greene, he said that he has not gotten the type of response from the Black church, Black organizations and Black elected officials to address the lack of preparedness in the Black community. That will be changing though, because I plan to work with IN-C.E.R.T. to improve the overall preparedness and emergency response capabilities in the Black community, while making sure we have quality services and community based safety education. It is needed!
More on the way y’all, because I am tired of saying that Blacks ain’t prepared for nothing! A new day is coming and a change is on the way. I want everyone to be a part of it, so stay tuned.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org