By Paul Watler
Texas has rarely seen a storm as destructive and vicious as Hurricane Harvey. It was an ill wind that blew little good.
But the monster rain delivered by the storm did not obscure the bravery and compassion of Texans from all walks of life helping their neighbors.
Many of those who steadfastly rose to the occasion were working journalists from across Texas. I am proud to count a number of them among my clients and the clients of this law firm.
Through timely warnings and by pinpointing trouble spots, trusted sources of local and state news helped save lives and kept vital information flowing to the public. Electronic, print and digital media – often by real-time social media feeds — served a huge swath of coastal Texas with early alerts and inspiring accounts of storm rescues.
Many in the media faced concerns over the safety of their loved ones and experienced flooding in their own homes but were not deterred from 18-hour work days spent reporting to the public on Hurricane Harvey.
Like emergency first responders, Texas journalists stayed in the path of the storm or rushed to the front lines to selflessly serve during a time of utmost stress and community danger. One of those was photographer Louis DeLuca of The Dallas Morning News who captured an unforgettable image that quickly became an icon of Harvey. His lens dramatically depicted the rescue from rising floodwaters made by a Houston police officer of a young mother with her infant sleeping in her arms.
Like others safely removed from the zone of danger, I was transfixed and often moved by the coverage of the storm harrying our Lone Star State. Many fine journalists worked tirelessly to relay images and video of emergency crews and private citizens rescuing strangers. Those heroes crossed boundaries that too often divide us in ordinary times. No color lines, no means test, no religious dogma, no generational divide stood in the way as, time and again, first responders and weekend boaters helped saved lives and property. And there to document it all, often at considerable personal risk, were men and women of the Texas news media.
We live in a time when the nation’s chief executive has called out the news media as “the enemy of the America people.” So, it is worth observing that journalists are among that strange breed who rush to the place of danger rather than away from it.
Our free press often irritates and dismays for its punditry and seeming obsession with political intrigue. But it is also a volunteer press. No one forces any reporter or weather meteorologist to go to a natural disaster. No government official orders them into harm’s way. The best in journalism pursue their profession because they see it as a high calling, a way to change lives. And sometimes, a way to help save lives.