After The Storm

Let the sunshine in: Magazine sees a brighter day for Houston after Harvey disaster

Magazine sees brighter day for resilient Houston after Harvey disaster

Houston CityBook cover with Houston sunrises after flooding
The October issues of Houston CityBook includes 140 tiny photos of a sunnier Houston after Harvey left town. Courtesy of Houston CityBook

After four dark days in Houston, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey finally left town and a bit of sun peeked out from behind the clouds. Suddenly, Instagram was flooded with a ray of hope after the storm as friends and neighbors pointed their cell phones at the skies and posted photos of the clearing weather.

Houston CityBook editor-in-chief Jeff Gremillion, took notice. And he and his colleagues got a bright idea.

Gremillion ripped up the magazine's planned October issue and replaced it with a special "After the Storm" issue with a collage of 140 unique photographs of sunshine that were posted by Houstonians on Instagram as the cover.

"Harvey’s storm clouds blotted out the sun for four long, tense days in late August. When sunlight finally began to find its way through the gray, on the afternoon of August 29 and the morning of August 30, many were euphoric, taking to social media to share their sunny photos, along with messages of resilience and renewal," Gremillion explained in an email.

"Our art director, Patrick Magee, was so moved by all the deeply personal reactions to the sunshine that he suggested we begin gathering the images for a collage. We figure every single Houstonian saw something special, something hopeful, in the sunshine in those first hours after Harvey. And so we titled our cover story 'Six Million Sunrises,' a nod to the Houston area's population."

The lifestyle magazine which launched in September 2016, usually covers such topics as fashion, food, interior design, art, and entertainment but decided the hurricane merited special attention. "I had sat in my living room in the middle of the storm and wondered how does a new magazine cover the biggest hurricane in a century?" Gremillion told CultureMap.

He commissioned special essays about the storm from noted authors Justin Cronin and Chitra Divakaruni as well as an original piece of artwork from Houston artist Justin Garcia. The issue also includes dozens of previously unpublished images of Harvey’s devastation and the city’s now-famous inspiring response to the hurricane.

Gremillion and publisher Lisa Holthouse delayed the magazine's publishing date by a week to get the new stories in, but felt the extra cost was well worth it.  "This is a defining moment for Houston, and we had to do something significant about it," Gremillion said.

The magazine appears on newsstands on Thursday.