Tropical Storm Imelda struck southeast Texas with a fury late last week, dropping an estimated 24 inches of rain between Houston and Beaumont, according to a NASA report. The affected areas fell into a state of danger and destruction as floodwaters rose, causing accidents and damaging property left and right.
With five dead as a result of the flooding, officials are comparing the storm to Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Texas coast in 2017. The Houston Chronicle reported that heavy rains within a short span of time left dozens of people stranded on roadways and in homes, with volunteers and first responders working overtime to rescue those trapped by the downpour.
However, as often seems to be the case during incidents of widespread disaster, Imelda victims have shown heroism, courage and even great calm in the face of tragedy.
One man met the storm with a particularly unique and inspiring approach: music.
Geovani Ayala, a band director with the Conroe Independent School District, could have let the distressing situation create a panic, as he and his family looked on while his mother’s house was overcome by the floodwaters.
Instead, the musician sat atop a ladder surrounded by the water in his mom’s backyard and played a song on his flugelhorn.
“I was surrounded by everything, and Mother Nature did its thing and there was nothing we could do to avoid that,”Ayala told KTRK-TV. “So, the piece that came to my mind was, rain or shine, this is a wonderful world.”
Perched on the ladder, he crooned the classic Louis Armstrong piece in the silence of the storm’s aftermath, choosing to find comfort in the tune of “What a Wonderful World” and the joy produced in creating something beautiful.
Ayala shared a video of his song on Facebook, captioning it jokingly, “Performing for you from the AYALA Ocean!”
“Ps. We’re okay!” he added, so his friends would know that in spite of all the damage, his family was together and safe.
Soon enough, people impacted by the storm began liking and sharing the clip, uplifted by the music and the peace that it brought with it. Ayala never expected his performance to touch so many people.
“Honestly, yes, I was surprised,” he said. “My first reaction when I started to realize the video was going everywhere and reaching a lot of people, my first reaction was like, ‘Whoa!'”
Even though he managed to stay calm during the flood, Ayala said it was tough to see so much chaos in the neighborhood.
“After playing for a little bit on my instrument it kind of dawned on me and hit me a little bit,” he said. The storm had left his mom’s home, street and yard severely damaged. But Ayala’s playing had helped his family members find peace.
“A lot of people have different ways to find, you know, peace and tranquility,” the musician said. This was his.
The video warmed hearts as people online recognized that nature, though devastating at times, is a gift from God that never ceases to amaze. Additionally, Ayala’s story shows how much good still exists during times of trouble, that people truly can draw strength from one another — or even from a simple song.
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