Still, even with a region prepared for the worst, and with some federal resources mobilized in assistance, the wide swathe of country affected by Hurricane Harvey and its record-breaking floods faces a long road ahead. The public-health safety net will be tested. Physicians and nurses will work many more hours than they should. The threats of outbreaks and major environmental hazards still loom large. And especially in Houston, which hosted a very large population of low-income people already pushed to the edge of the health-care system even before the storm, the challenges will be amplified by the health problems that already plagued local communities.

But, to a person, the first responders and physicians on the scene expressed their optimism, both in the planning and in the resolve of the people on the ground. “I’m really glad to be here, and to see so many people helping,” Banu told me. Aoshima-Kilroy said that even though she felt punch-drunk by the scale of the calamity, she was also “grateful to be in a profession that can be used or utilized in this time of need.”

Brandt expressed her hope that her colleagues could get Houston back up and running quickly. “I’m very proud of our response and the people,” she said. “This city is incredible.”