Rising Waters, Rising Spirit: Lessons from the Beryl Flood and Our Shared Responsibility in a Climate-Ravaged World

Torlando Hakes
4 min readJul 10, 2024


As the floodwaters from Hurricane Beryl recede, leaving behind a trail of destruction and displacement, we are once again reminded of the raw power of nature and the vulnerability of our communities. But amidst the devastation, we also witness the remarkable resilience of the human spirit and the unbreakable bonds that bind us together. The response to the Beryl flood offers a profound lesson in community, civic duty, and our collective responsibility to protect our planet. Yet, a nagging question lingers: will we, as a society, heed this latest wake-up call, or will we continue to sleepwalk towards a future of escalating crises?

Community: More Than Just a Place, But Stretched Thin

A community is not merely a geographical location; it is a network of individuals connected by shared values, experiences, and a common destiny. In times of crisis, these connections are tested and strengthened. The Beryl flood demonstrated the incredible power of community-driven action. Neighbors helping neighbors, volunteers donating time and resources, and local organizations like the Cajun Navy coordinating relief efforts are testaments to the enduring spirit of human compassion and solidarity.

But for how long can this spirit endure in the face of repeated disasters? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the U.S. experienced a record-breaking 18 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2022 alone. This year is already on track to surpass that grim milestone, with Hurricane Beryl joining the ranks of catastrophic events like the devastating tornado outbreak in the Midwest and even the severe storms that recently ravaged my home town Bloomington, Indiana. How many times can we rely on the goodwill of volunteers and the stretched resources of community organizations like food banks and shelters to pick up the pieces? As we rebuild from one disaster after another, we must acknowledge that community resilience has its limits. We cannot continue to expect individuals and local groups to shoulder the burden of increasingly frequent and intense disasters without adequate support from those in power.

Civic Duty: Beyond Voting, Beyond Empty Promises and Partisan Gridlock

Civic duty extends far beyond casting a ballot in an election. It encompasses a wide range of actions that contribute to the well-being of our communities and our nation. In the aftermath of the Beryl flood, we witnessed countless examples of individuals going above and beyond their civic duty. From first responders risking their lives to save others to ordinary citizens volunteering their time and skills, the response to the disaster was a testament to the power of collective action.

But what about the civic duty of our leaders? The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that the federal government spends tens of billions of dollars each year on disaster assistance, yet investments in preventative measures remain woefully inadequate. How many more communities like Bloomington must be declared disaster areas before our elected officials take meaningful action to address the root causes of our vulnerability? How many more empty promises and half-hearted measures will we tolerate? It is time for our leaders to break free from partisan gridlock and fulfill their duty to protect the people they serve. This means investing in resilient infrastructure, supporting climate change mitigation efforts, and prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable.

Global Responsibility: A Shared Planet on the Brink, Ignored by Many

The Beryl flood, the Midwest tornadoes, your local storms — these are not isolated incidents. They are part of a larger pattern of increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events fueled by climate change. NASA reports that global sea levels have risen by an average of 3.4 millimeters per year over the past three decades, exacerbating the impact of storm surges and coastal flooding. As global temperatures continue to rise, we can expect more heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and floods, with disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities.

We have a moral imperative to address the climate crisis and mitigate its effects. This means reducing our carbon footprint, investing in renewable energy, and advocating for policies that promote sustainability. We must also support international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist those most affected by climate change.

But even as the evidence of climate change mounts and the calls for action grow louder, there are those who continue to deny the reality of the crisis or downplay its urgency. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that a significant portion of the American public still does not believe that climate change is a major threat. Their inaction and obstructionism are a betrayal of our shared responsibility to protect the planet and future generations.

The Beryl flood, the Midwest tornadoes, the storms of your hometowns — these are wake-up calls, but will we heed them? Will we finally acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold, decisive action? Or will we continue to sleepwalk towards a future of escalating disasters, broken communities, and a planet in peril?

The fatalist in me sees this and sighs. We’re doomed to repeat our mistakes, forever chasing the dragon of progress, even as it consumes us.

But then a flicker of defiance ignites. The fatalist may be right, but the human spirit refuses to be extinguished. We may be flawed, we may be foolish, but we are also capable of extraordinary acts of courage, compassion, and creativity. The choice is ours. We get to decide who we want to be, how we want to treat each other, and what kind of world we want to leave behind. We don’t have to be afraid of what others think. We can speak out, stand up, and lead by example. And as we do, others will join us, one by one, until we become a chorus of voices too loud to ignore.

Perhaps the fatalist in me is wrong. Perhaps we’re not doomed to repeat our mistakes. Perhaps we can change course, even at this late hour. Perhaps hope is not a delusion, but a prophecy waiting to be fulfilled. The future is not yet written. We are the ones who hold the pen.

To be continued…




Torlando Hakes

Craftsman Painter CEO | Author of Sprint | PaintED Podcast Host