All Eyes South

All Eyes South:

Hurricane Harvey. Yep. It’s landed. Blowing, raining, tornadoes, flooding… All the by products of a weather system we can only see developing when the forecasters point it out. It’s weakening and staggering like a drunken sailor. Only time will show its final path and unfold it’s completed acts of destruction.

If you are from that part of the world, then you have grown used to these occasional and frightful storms. 10, 20 and 30 inches of rain. Flooding that leaves you living in the middle of a lake. The Wind that easily moves pieces around like a chess master. That constant listening for the freight train portends the tornado that could do even worse damage in a shorter span of time.

The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.

Several conversations over the past few days revolved around evacuation. Easy to say, harder to accomplish. 10 million people in migration challenges the road system, and the hinterlands that absorb their flow.

I remember Hurricane Carla, back in 1961. Well, what I truly remember is the aftermath. We went to Kentucky. It was 9/3/61… Schools would have already been in session if today is any indication of historical starting dates. We enjoyed the family up north and returned to devastation. Clear Lake looks to have made it within 20 feet of the home, leaves and branches filled the fenced yard. We were not allowed to leave the car till a path was cleared because this was snake country! In 140 acres of Champion Paper Company Park, where we lived, there were over 60 oak trees down. It was a cleanup effort that took weeks and months.

Storms come and go, and today we call them by names to remember their system. Katrina. Ike. Camille. (There was a time they were named only after women, but that changed a generation ago!) The biggest storm in Texas happened before they started naming storms. Wikipedia describes it as the “Galveston Hurricane of 1900” and it killed over 6,000 people, and some estimates go as high as 12,000 dead. Afterwards, they built the seawall to never have the island simply overrun like before. Bridges were better built to funnel the escape, and to this day, those efforts have saved countless lives over and over again.

This is often what we do. Fix the barn door after the escape. Disasters often bring out how ill prepared we are, and we do everything to prepare for the next occurrence. Unless time delays the storm and we forget it’s effect, then it’s often easier to let the future handle the problem….

Less I fail to mention it again, it’s a big memory of mine, and as far as my research shows this was another unnamed storm that stalled in the Gulf just off the coast of Galveston and Houston.

1978. 26 inches of rain in 24 hours. We lived in Southwest Houston, just outside of the 610 loop. I worked at Gray Tool next to the Astrodome just inside 610 Loop. I was managing the computer room and could only make to and from work during low tide, through back roads because the loop was full of cars who could not exit due to flooded surface streets. Driving through downtown Houston you could see the tide watermarks at 3 and 4 feet from the road. For several days, the tide controlled all that excess water… 

Today. I follow my family and friends through social media and am happy to report they are all safe and sound. It’s not over yet. Harvey is still weaving around. But for the moment. Safe!