HOUSTON — As we walked through Shirley Hines’s flood-battered Houston neighborhood on Sunday, we passed pile after pile at the curb — the soggy, ruined contents of people’s homes, mixed with floorboards, Sheetrock and insulation.
I suddenly felt a tinge of embarrassment. My 8-year-old son carried a box containing small, pretty things: three red-striped cups, fragile and ordinary kitchen-cabinet objects. In a place where everything was broken, what good was something so shiny and little and whole?
The three cups were a gift for Ms. Hines, from a stranger in Maryland.
I first met Ms. Hines a few days after her neighborhood was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. The inside of her house was outside at the curb, in a tall messy mound. I was asking her and her neighbors one question for an article I was writing for The New York Times: Amid so much loss, what did you manage to save?
Her granddaughter …