Even now, weeks after Hurricane Harvey stalled over southeast Texas dropping historical amounts of rain and causing unprecedented flooding, the full extent of the damage has not been fully realized. Galveston County officials estimate 20,000 homes were flooded, many very severely. As many as 40,000 people were displaced from their homes. The storm uprooted families, drowned businesses, swamped schools and inundated churches.

Officials at every level of government still are working to refine aid programs for people badly affected by the storm. Little is certain except that the need among county residents and institutions is great and the recovery will be long. It may, for example, be 32 months before federal disaster housing recovery money begins to arrive in the county, officials said in early October.

As challenging as is it to quantify the material damage of Harvey, it’s far more difficult to identify and assess the more human types of damage, which have occurred among people who’ve lost their homes, their jobs, their schools and their churches. What’s clear is that the need is there for all sorts of assistance — for mental health care, for food and rental assistance and for transportation, to name just a few.

At the time, however, there was a lot to be thankful and hopeful about. Not the least of which is the immediate, heroic response to the crisis during which official emergency responders and a legion of private citizens took to the flood to rescue and bring assistance and aid to their stricken friends and neighbors. That spirit continues to thrive even now, long after the flood waters have receded. It manifests in ways large and small — through major financial contributions to private recovery efforts, and small, personal acts of kindness playing out every day since the storm.

Hurricane Harvey will go down in history. The meteorological and numerical records it set may stand for years to come, but the storm’s destructive power always will be overshadowed by the remarkable response it inspired among people who live and work in Galveston County.

This fall, The Daily News will publish a hardcover pictorial book featuring scores of memorable images chronicling both the massive flood and the extraordinary response. A portion of the proceeds for the book will go the Galveston County Recovery Fund and The Salvation Army of Galveston County to help fill the lingering need Harvey left among our neighbors.

Read more about the book and order online

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

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