We have not been able to get over the devastation in Southeast Texas. A major overpass linking my old hometown, Lumberton to the next town has collapsed. It breaks my heart in words I can’t express. We spent over 30 years there. We have friends there. Every time they show a street or building under water my heart tightens because I know those places like the back of my hand. Despite all that’s happened, people are weaving the threads of recovery.
Neighbors and strangers are pulling together. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. That’s how we roll down here. We roll up our sleeves and cuss about it later.
Unlike New Orleans, our dams and levees held, but there was simply too much rain dumped all at one time. The water has nowhere to go so it sits until it can recede on its own. As of last Monday’s estimation, over 24.5 TRILLION gallons of rain has fallen on Texas.
Now comes the hard part. When you’re busy rescuing people and animals your life has purpose, but once that’s done you have to wait for the water to recede before you can assess the damage, tear out, and rebuild.
Harvey survivors (I refuse to call them victims) have a long wait ahead of them. They can’t fix anything until after that water drains. In the meantime, they have to deal with snakes, fire ants, wild hogs, and even alligators.
Several retailers have opened their stores as shelters. Others with nearby ranches, have offered their dry pastures to people with horses. There are a lot of good people out here.
Other ways to help:
If you’re nearby and have power:
• Offer to do laundry for those without power.
• Set up a charging station so people can charge their cell phones and ipads.
• Have aspirin, ibuprofen, bleach, and hand sanitizer available for workers/families in the area.
• Offer to bring a home-cooked meal or invite those ravaged to a home-cooked dinner. (They’ll be busy during daylight hours, so dinner is the best time for them.)
• Offer to let them use your shower.
If you’re further away and want to help, contact local charities to see what they need. Some shelters/charities have run out of certain things or have too much of another.
One nice thing you can do for someone affected is to send them a gift card to a restaurant chain in their area. After our house fire which gutted my kitchen, and again after Hurricane Rita, those gift cards were very much appreciated. I cannot stress enough how tired everyone is right now. There’s going to be a lot to do for many weeks and months ahead. Being able to eat out after a hard day of tearing out sheetrock and carpet is a godsend.
I want to give a special shoutout to a good friend of ours. Despite a very bad back that keeps him in constant agony, he has worked tirelessly to reach people and animals trapped by water and carry them to safety with his boat. The water hasn’t yet reached inside his home, but he’s spending every waking moment helping others. This is Texas and this is what we do when trouble strikes.
For now, we’ve offered our home as refuge to several friends. So far, no one has wanted to leave, which I totally understand. But we’re here if they want to take a break from the water.
An interesting turn of events has occurred during recovery. The gas pumps started running dry. My sister chose this unfortunate week to drive from Arizona to Chicago. She texted me along the way and said it was getting harder and harder to find gas. On top of that it’s Labor Day and people travel.
Some people panicked and sat in long lines at the few pumps still operating. What they didn’t realize was that it’s only temporary. There’s no shortage. It’s just that most of the refineries are in Southeast Texas and many roads are impassable. On top of that, many refineries aren’t back online yet. They can’t pump gas to the haulers. As of this writing, nearly 75% of the refineries are starting up again this week.
It’ll line itself out in a few days. Carpool if you can, or stay home. Conserve gas until we recover.
Something similar happened to us several years ago when flooding struck the Midwest. Does anyone remember that? Many trucks couldn’t get to us and within three days, the grocery store shelves were nearly empty. It was surreal and kind of scary when you think three days was all it took to empty out a major store.
I don’t worry because I stock enough to last a year, but I did miss getting fresh bread and produce. I was forced to BAKE bread! Forced, I tell you! Within a week, things were back to normal.
The best thing to do is to stay informed. Keep an eye on weather not just in your backyard but across the country. We don’t realize how much we rely on the trucking industry until they’re not there to stock our shelves or fill our gas pumps.
Right now I’m watching Hurricane Irma to see where she’s headed. I pray it dies a quick death in the ocean, but forecasters think it’s unlikely. Whatever she does, I hope it’s minimal.
That being said, anyone who lives near the east coast should stock up on supplies now. (See last week’s post.) Don’t wait until the last minute.
Everyone else who gets gas from Southeast Texas needs to fill gas cans and cars once the gas starts flowing again–just in case Irma decides to hit the Texas coast again.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Are you seeing long lines at gas stations? Have you ever come across empty shelves at a grocery store?