Every time there’s a natural disaster — such as Hurricane Harvey at present — it brings out both the best and worst of humanity, and thankfully so far the good is outweighing the bad.
The scenes of flooded neighborhoods and streets in Houston and surrounding areas are heart-wrenching — people sitting outside devastated homes, looks of hopelessness and despair on their faces. Or being rescued from rooftops while others trudge through waist-deep water to reach higher ground.
Yet once again, the spirit that makes us special as Americans has risen to the occasion in rain-drenched Texas, where there have been countless examples of neighbor helping neighbor. Many folks have volunteered their boats to remove people from flooded homes, while also assisting at shelters and delivering food and water to those who are trapped.
Efforts to aid fellow Houstonites regardless of their color makes you realize that despite the narrative perpetuated by the far left these days, there is no racial divide.
Meanwhile, relief efforts to provide food, clothing and other necessities to victims are springing up around the country. Many people are reaching deep into their pockets for contributions to aid organizations making a difference in the disaster area such as the American Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse.
Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, Harvey also has brought out some of the worst in people.
One example is the looting of homes and businesses in the storm’s wake. There always seems to be an element of society that seeks to take advantage of chaos, whether it is due to a weather-related event, riot or other upheaval.
There is also the case of Pastor Joel Osteen, the celebrity televangelist, who has taken heat (rightfully) for not readily opening up the doors of his megachurch in Houston to residents fleeing Hurricane Harvey’s deadly rising floodwaters.
After being lambasted on social media, Osteen indicated that this was all just a misunderstanding. In one news account, he claimed the church, which can hold more than 16,000, was available as a shelter from the beginning, while in another Osteen said he would have gladly opened the facility had the city of Houston asked him sooner.
It just sounds like a bunch of (blah-blah-blah) double-talk and attempts at damage control from an individual who depends on book sales to support his so-called ministry. But I wonder how long it would have taken Jesus to offer sanctuary, given that life often is down and dirty and not the stuff of $1,000 suits, plastic smiles and posturing for TV cameras.
Another troubling aspect is the tendency of some to benefit financially from shortages or disruptions of supply channels, such as price-gougers who might charge desperate people $10 for a jug of water because they are handy targets to exploit.
Then there is an example close to home, in North Carolina and neighboring states, where motorists have faced tremendous increases in fuel prices in recent days.
This included a jump at the place in Mount Airy where I buy gas, from $2.27 per gallon for regular earlier this week to $2.55 on Thursday.
Now I realize that refinery operations in the Houston area have shut down and something called the Colonial Pipeline has been closed due to the flooding (blah-blah-blah).
However, I would like for someone to explain to me how gasoline hundreds of miles away here in Mount Airy, North Carolina — which probably was processed and delivered to storage tanks weeks ago — can undergo a 28-cent hike basically overnight. I don’t claim to be an expert in fuel-commodities affairs, but would love for someone who is to tell me how this can be justified.
It’s like a fly hits a windshield in Saudi Arabia, and somehow that’s an excuse to increase fuel prices in America with lightning precision.
Meanwhile, this creates a panic situation in which consumers rush to the pumps to fill up tanks they wouldn’t normally, in fear of a shortage and to avoid further hikes. That only ends up creating artificial market and supply conditions that inflate the cost.
All this invariably is the result of some suits in some offices somewhere making a decision to take advantage of the chaos from Harvey by gouging consumers as much as they think they can get away with legally.
Of course, they’ll recite fancy economic terms such as supply and demand to justify their actions — but to me these leeches are no better than the thugs who are looting stores and homes.
If there is any fairness to this equation, gas prices will drop drastically THE INSTANT the refineries/pipeline reopen — we all know this won’t happen.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.