Keep Houston Strong

Nancy Olson is a former broadcast journalist, wife of Congressman Pete Olson and mom of two.

the last word | By Nancy Olson-

I just hope this feeling never goes away. Don’t you feel it? There’s a new sense of kindness and benevolence in the air. It started with a devastating hurricane called Harvey. We all went through the storm for five long days, and when it was over, none of us were the same. Some lost so much – all of their possessions, their history and their memories.  We all felt the pain for those hurting.

In turn, if you were fortunate enough to be unscathed by the storm and the rising waters, you became driven to find a way to help in any way you could so as to contend with the self-imposed “survivor’s guilt.” The nation proclaimed us “Houston Strong,” and we lived up to the title. We were the symbol of what could happen if people put aside what separates them and just came together for the greater good. The endless stories of self-sacrifice and heroics touched the world. Not a day would go by that you didn’t ask someone how they made out during the storm, as we continued to relive and retell our experiences. Good or bad, we all shared a common bond.

Representative Pete and Nancy Olson, along with friends and neighbors, trudged through the flooded streets to help bring food and supplies to 175 people sheltered at Sugar Land First United Methodist Church during Hurricane Harvey.

And then it happened again. Was it possible that a team with the worst record in baseball just a few short years ago could turn it around and win the World Series for the very first time? The excitement and anticipation in the air was palpable. People who never watched baseball were staying up until all hours of the night to see if the Astros would do it again!  And they did. We all walked around for ten days with sleep deprivation because the games just seemed to go on and on. But, nobody cared. We were finally getting to talk about something else, something happier. Halloween was basically cancelled because the Astros game started at 7:20 pm, and who could be bothered with trick-or-treating when there was a sixth game to be won? The Astros had the momentum, and everyone felt it. Like the New Orleans Saints after Hurricane Katrina, the city of Houston was going to get its long-awaited national title as well. When the last batter was thrown out in game seven, and the players stormed the field, we were all part of the celebration!  We were “Houston Strong” once again!  Two months earlier, it was a storm called Harvey that unfortunately brought us together.  This time, it was the Fall Classic. Now, instead of sharing heartbreaking stories of loss, we were exchanging our favorite moments from our city’s long deserved win!

So, where do we go from here? It’s unrealistic to think that we can maintain the dramatic sense of unity that was felt at the height of both of these experiences, but is it possible to capture and hold on to some of it? Can we reset the clock and establish a new “normal?”  You’ve probably seen the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” on the popular t-shirts sold in Austin.  I propose that we have our own mantra:  “Keep Houston Strong.” If we were to walk around with clothing embossed with this saying, even just metaphorically (on days we aren’t wearing our Astros jerseys, of course!), might it be an indelible reminder of what we have been, and what we can forever be, together?

Until next time,