August was a wild month, starting with the clash between the Nazis and the Antifa in Charlottesville. Then we all forgot about politics for a brief, shining moment while we watched the solar eclipse (that I had to miss ’cause it rained where I was). We all came together again as well when Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas as a category four hurricane that was worse than Katrina in terms of damage, though thankfully not in loss of life. It’s in times like this that heroes are forged, and the real heroes of Hurricane Harvey are the men and women of the “Cajun Navy,” basically just ordinary people who owned recreational motorboats. They were born out of Hurricane Katrina, rescuing stranded residents in New Orleans. They jumped back into service, maneuvering their fishing boats through the flooded streets of Houston, rescuing families stranded on rooftops as the flood waters claimed their homes. They came from all over the country, with their canoes and kayaks in tow. Anything that could float and carry people became a rescue vehicle, like the makeshift civilian fleet that rescued the Allied forces trapped at Dunkirk. They don’t have orders and they’re not getting paid, but their heroism and selflessness should stand as a reminder to us all that America is already great.
I know of two of them in particular. Kenny Bellau is a kid from my old neighborhood who was our “roving reporter” following the New Orleans East tornado back in February that passed within about 300 feet of my childhood home, with his bike and his cell phone camera. He brought it along when he took his boat to Houston, and provided live coverage of the rescue operations. Why some local TV station hasn’t hired him is beyond me. The other one I know is family. Jeff Peno is my cousin once removed. His father is one of three cousins I have in the affected area, from Nederland, Texas (just outside of Beaumont). I probably have other cousins in the region I don’t even know about. That’s how I know that in the long run, Texas is gonna be okay. Because they’re Texas.