As private citizens, there’s no firm obligation to get our hands dirty when disaster strikes, to help our neighbor in their time of need, to sacrifice time, talent, and treasure on behalf of others.

But that’s what Texans did.

Despite holding the freedom to look after themselves and tend to their own families, they sprang into action.

While Texas’ own first responders worked admirably and assiduously to help those in need they were vastly outnumbered by an army of volunteers— thousands of private citizens across the Lone Star State who mobilized their own trucks, trailers, and trout boats and placed themselves in harm’s way to help their fellow man. Likewise, the “Cajun Navy,” a volunteer armada of Louisiana volunteers rallied to Texas’ aid as well, pouring across the Sabine River and doing their best to help citizens here in Texas, even as Harvey steamed towards their own state’s shores.

It was these brave, noble, and self-sacrificing citizens that showed Texas can not only hold its own in a fight against a hurricane’s fury, rising tides, and torrential floods—but that it can win.

But the fight isn’t over.

While the stormclouds have left and the sun is now shining on Texas’ gulf coast, citizens are only beginning to assess the damage to their homes and businesses and recovery will be a long and costly process.

According to USA Today and a private weather firm, AccuWeather, Harvey will likely be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, with a likely price tag of about $160 billion.

Such an estimate is only preliminary and only involves the financial aspect of the aftermath. It doesn’t include the emotional cost of individuals losing their homes and heirlooms. It doesn’t include the opportunities that were washed away in the flood. But despite such non-inclusion, such an estimate, would mean Hurricane Harvey is equal to the combined cost of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and represents an almost 1% hit to the nation’s economy.

As Texas begins to rebuild, there will be great costs on citizens and on government on all levels to repair the damage fashioned by the powerful storm.

Community leaders have assembled and have started crowd funding campaigns that have already raised millions of dollars for people effected by Hurricane Harvey. Houston Texans star defensive end, JJ Watt, raised more than $800 thousand in 26 hours through his charitable foundation. To date, his campaign has raised over $5.4 million and that number continues to climb. If an individual wishes to show support for this effort, one could do so here.

But for many, the night is not yet over. Families are still grieving the loss of loved ones. Prayers and support are still desperately needed. Homes are still flooded and flooding and people still need rescue. The Empower Texans team sends prayers for those affected.

Zach Maxwell

Zach Maxwell is a contributor to Texas Scorecard and leads the Texas Torchbearers. Raised in Cisco, he has worked in various positions in the legislature and on campaigns.

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