by Amber Amortegui

Hurricane Harvey’s massive destruction is currently making national headlines after it relentlessly struck Houston. For many so far away from the heartbreak, this tragedy can seem distant, but for Dr. Robinson of the Biology Department, it has truly hit home. Dr. Robinson recently expressed his feelings toward this catastrophe as it takes place in a city that is dear to his heart.

Dr. Robinson was raised in Katy, Texas, a quiet suburb outside of Houston. His family didn’t lose power during the storm, so he was able to get timely updates. He described the situation as a “kind of a thing where every morning you get in touch with the family and say, ‘How are you doing?’, ‘Is there any water that’s coming up?’, ‘What’s the situation there?’…My family was fortunate…my parents were fine, my sister and her family were fine, my grandmother was fine…no one was hurt, no one lost a whole lot.”

However, being all the way in New England and witnessing these events from afar has not been easy for Dr. Robinson. Even for him, though, it is difficult to escape the grips of distance. He explains, “It’s surreal enough to where you feel detached. I see pictures of places where I lived when I was a grad student and they’re basically under water. It doesn’t even feel real to look at pictures of that. Just to think ‘that’s not some foreign place, that’s not some unfamiliar territory.’ These are places that have been my home. It’s very strange.”

While Dr. Robinson has admitted that his family was fortunate, he’s heard of stories of people in his community who were not as fortunate. As one of the leaders at his home church, Dr. Robinson’s father contacted members of the church and other leaders to see how the church members were holding up. According to Dr. Robinson’s father, there was at least one person whose car was carried away by the floods, while another person ultimately lost everything.

“It’s very sobering to see it [damage from the hurricane] happen to people who you know,” Dr. Robinson remarked.

Despite the state of turmoil that Houston is undergoing, Dr. Robinson stays faithful as he sees this hardship as, “an opportunity for people outside of the church to see legitimate service and see what the church is trying to do in neighborhoods.”