August 31, 2017
The devastation of Hurricane Harvey is unparalleled. My only experience with hurricanes prior to moving to Houston 2 years ago was what I learned from news reports. Although I’ve seen many photos of hurricane devastation in the past, riding out Hurricane Harvey has given me an entirely new perspective of the depth of devastation one can only understand after having survived such a storm.
While the images of destruction have riveted our nation, I hope we can take some comfort in the remarkable outpouring of support, strength, resilience, and courage from our UT community. Harvey has certainly tested Houston, but the response to this disaster has been incredible.
Thank you to all of those who have worked tirelessly to support our patients, our medical school, our community, and each other. Although we cancelled student activities for the week, patient care continues. We have some amazing patient stories with remarkable care provided by our doctors, nurses, and other healthcare personnel and hospital staff. Our hospital partners – Memorial Hermann, Childrens Memorial Hermann, LBJ, TIRR, and HCPC – have been true partners, working for the best interests of the community. Our students and residents, always eager to help others, have been involved in volunteer activities at George R. Brown Convention Center, at our hospitals, and elsewhere. They make us proud.
We are surrounded by people who remind us of the nobility of medicine and of the privilege of caring for the sick. My heartfelt thank you to this community does not convey the respect, really awe, I have for our colleagues.
When everyone returns to work, it may not be evident that our facilities team literally camped out at our UTHealth buildings—away from family and their own homes–since the storms began. They kept a steady eye out for storm damage, making repairs to mitigate water damage, ensuring that the buildings and student housing are safe. They are quiet, behind-the-scenes people, who make it possible for us to work and learn at the medical school. And finally, our UT police have been there, round the clock, ensuring our collective safety.
Many people worked for days without a break, selflessly, working for the greater good. I am proud to work with such wonderfully dedicated colleagues—the heroes of Hurricane Harvey.
Although the worst of the storm seems to have moved away from Houston, the impact will be with us for a long time. The city has only begun to assess the damage. After the waters recede, our UT community will need time to heal—time for both physical and emotional rebuilding. Getting back to “normal” will take a long time for so many people. But, I’ve learned that this is a strong and resilient community, and we will help each other get back to our business of educating tomorrow’s doctors and scientists, caring for the sick, pushing the boundaries of science and medicine, and contributing to our community— as we work together to help and heal from this disaster.
Our Student Health and Counseling Services clinic is open and available for any of our students that need additional support. Monica Guidry and her team at the Employee Assistance Program have put together a listing of available community resources: UTHealthemergency.org Click here to read an article from NPR with helpful information.
Please take time to thank your colleagues for all they are doing, ask them about their well-being, and take some time to care for yourself. This community will never forget Hurricane Harvey, but we will also remember that this storm brought out the best in people during the worst of times.