More than 72,000 people have been rescued since Harvey pummeled the Texas coast last week and created catastrophic flooding by lingering for days. After officials made a callout for volunteers, civilians captained everything from "bass boats, jet skis and aluminum dinghies" to ferry residents to safety, Smerconish said in an on-air commentary Saturday.
"In May of 1940, it was the English citizenry who rallied to the rescue of more than 300,000 troops who were trapped on a beach in northern France in the early days of World War II," he said.
Some of the troops could even see their homeland across the English Channel.
"It was a flotilla of nearly 700 civilian craft -- the 'Little Ships of Dunkirk' -- that made their way from Ramsgate in England to assist with the rescue. And so it was in Texas this week."
Supply quickly outstripped demand in the Houston area, he said, when hundreds of boat owners responded to calls for volunteer help.
"The resulting flotilla was an American Dunkirk, minus the aerial bombardment," Smerconish added.
Although he didn't want to minimize Harvey's devastation, he said he believed the situation could have been much worse, "were it not for the human spirit."
"Just for a moment can we celebrate the human spirit that we've all watched play out over the span of the last seven days," he said, praising those who joined humanitarian efforts.
"The first responders. Those who risked their lives for strangers. Neighbors who opened their homes to those who required shelter from the storm. Heroics to save the lives of pets. The many who undertook fund-raising tasks and the many more who are responding to those calls," he added.
As an example, Smerconish pointed to
a viral video of people forming a human chain
to save an elderly man trapped in his car on an interstate in Houston.
"Nobody asked him how he was registered to vote. Nobody wanted to see his immigration papers for that matter. If there's been one thing missing, or at least diminished this past week, it's been partisan rancor," he said.
The wind and waters of Hurricane Harvey didn't discriminate, Smerconish said.
"They lashed Republicans, Democrats and independents. Young and old, the rich and poor, the black, white, Asian and the Hispanic," he said.
"Here's hoping its legacy is a reminder of all that unites us."