Tag Archives: Hurricane Harvey

Climate change will bring more storms

A report came to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk that delivers a stern message without actually saying the words it needs to say.

The Gulf Coast is going to experience more severe storms with increasing frequency, the report states. Why? Earth’s climate is changing. However, the report doesn’t use the words “climate change” to explain what is patently obvious.

Gov. Abbott won’t accept climate change as a contributing factor, but the report does contain some stern and dire warnings.

According to the Austin American-Statesman: “The enormous toll on individuals, businesses and public infrastructure should provide a wake-up call underlining the urgent need to ‘future proof’ the Gulf Coast — and indeed all of Texas — against future disasters,” according to “Eye of the Storm,’ the report released Thursday by . . . Abbott’s Commission to Rebuild Texas.”

But as the American-Statesman notes, “future proof” has become Abbott’s favorite term as it relates to what the state is experiencing.

Earlier reports note that storms as savage and sweeping as Hurricane Harvey are going to pound the coast with increasing frequency and savagery. Again, our climate is changing. Sea levels along the coast are rising. The rising levels put our fragile coastal wetlands in peril. Other reports note the shrinking Arctic and Antarctic ice caps that could cause sea levels to increase by more than four feet by 2100.

Also, according to the American-Statesman: “The current scientific consensus points to increasing amounts of intense rainfall coupled with the likelihood of more intense hurricanes,” the report states.

The president of the United States says climate change is a “hoax.” I believe he is wrong to say such a thing knowing that he is making a false declaration.

As for the Texas governor, it is long past time for him to climb aboard the climate change wagon. The evidence is there, even if a thorough report doesn’t say it in so many words.

National Climate Assessment: Harvey wasn’t a one-time event

Get ready, my fellow Texans. It’s quite likely, according to the National Climate Assessment, that Hurricane Harvey wasn’t a one-time catastrophe; there might more of them perhaps in the near future.

Hurricane Harvey delivered in the late summer of 2017 a one-two punch never seen before along the Gulf Coast. It roared in as a monstrous hurricane at Corpus Christi and Rockport, delivering huge storm surges off the Gulf of Mexico along with heavy wind.

It backed out over the water, then meandered up the coast and came in — again! — as a tropical storm. The second hit delivered 50 inches of rain over Houston and the Golden Triangle, putting vast stretches of the upper Texas coast under water.

Well, the National Climate Assessment says we can expect more of the same, or perhaps even worse. Why? Earth’s climate is changing. And, yes, the assessment delivered by the federal government is in direct contradiction to the half-baked pronouncements delivered by the president of the United States, Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump.

Trump says climate change is a “hoax.” He doesn’t accept the scientific community’s findings about the changing climate and the warming of the planet.

What’s more, scientists are concluding that human activity is a significant contributor to these changes.

According to the Texas TribuneThe White House downplayed the findings of the report, saying in a statement that it was “largely based on the most extreme scenario.”

But the report makes a compelling case for the reality of disastrous climate change impacts — in large part because they are already occurring. The report highlights Hurricane Harvey, wildfires in California and other recent extreme weather events, describing them as consistent with what might be expected as the planet warms. It also details the crippling impact a multi-year drought had on Texas agriculture from 2010 to 2015, thanks not only to less direct rainfall but to the reduction of water released to farmers for irrigation.

Who are you going to believe, a politician — Trump — with no background in science, let alone public service or scientists who make their living studying and determining these things?

I’m going to stand with the scientists.

Good riddance, straight-ticket voting

My hatred of straight-ticket voting has been chronicled numerous times on this blog and even during the time I worked for a living.

It is one of the curses that have infected Texas government. It’ll be gone before the 2020 presidential election, thanks to a repeal enacted by the Texas Legislature.

According to the Texas Tribune, the demise of straight-ticket voting didn’t happen soon enough to save the careers of dedicated public servants.

The Tribune singled out what happened to Harris County Judge Ed Emmitt, whose leadership helped Harris County recover from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Emmitt, a moderate Republican, drew bipartisan praise for his post-Harvey work. He lost re-election this past week, though, to a political novice, 27-year-old Democratic challenger Lina Hidalgo, who the Tribune reports had never attended a Commissioners Court meeting before defeating the incumbent judge.

She benefited from straight-ticket voting, along with other Democrats appearing on down-ballot races in the midterm election.

This is precisely why I detest the practice of allowing voters to punch the straight-party slot on the ballot. Too many politicians who should be elected or re-elected are bounced out simply because of party loyalty.

The major beneficiary of this travesty in Texas in recent years have been GOP politicians, with worthy Democrats falling victim to voters’ polling place laziness.

That’s going to change in 2020. The demise of straight-ticket voting at the very least will force voters to look at each race on the ballot and make their choices individually. My hope, but not necessarily my expectation, would be that voters would consider their choice before making it.

Most states disallow straight-ticket voting. Texas, therefore, is joining a long list of states that have thought better about allowing voters to go just with the party without considering the merits of an individual candidate — whose performance or philosophy might not adhere strictly to a political party’s platform.

The end of straight-ticket voting, in my view, is a win for the cause of good government.

Finally!

Sagan gets a (sort of) endorsement

My old buddy Greg Sagan is trying to do the nearly impossible: defeat longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry in this year’s midterm election.

Sagan has gotten some help from a most unlikely source. The question now though is this: What good will it do? I have an answer: Hardly none.

Still, the Houston Chronicle, which sits way down yonder on the Texas Gulf Coast, has urged readers of the paper to vote against Thornberry, who’s running for re-election in the 13th Congressional District, stretching from the Texas Panhandle to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

The Chronicle said “voters from Amarillo to Wichita Falls” should endorse the Democrat Sagan or the Libertarian Calvin DeWeese. The paper referred to the challengers as “two politicians who didn’t kick us while we were under 50-plus inches of floodwater.”

The Chron is angry that Thornberry was one of four Texas Republican congressmen to oppose aid to the Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. You remember Hurricane Harvey, yes? It dumped all that rain a year ago along the Gulf Coast from Houston to the Golden Triangle.

Three of the four naysayers aren’t seeking re-election. Thornberry is the last man standing. He has drawn the ire of the Houston Chronicle. One of the GOP lawmakers who said “no” to Harvey funds is Sam Johnson of Plano, who happens to be my congressman now that my wife and I have moved to the Metroplex.

The task for Sagan now is spreading the word among Texas Panhandle voters about the seeming heartlessness of a native Texan who just couldn’t support legislation aimed at helping fellow Texans in maximum distress.

I am pulling for my pal, Greg Sagan.

Ship ahoy, Cajun navy!

Every major event always seems to produce something of a “back story” that brings a smile to our face and expressions of gratitude for the bravery of average Americans.

Hurricane Florence stormed ashore this morning and delivered a punishing blow to the Carolina coastline. It meandered inland and has been “downgraded” to a tropical storm.

Five people have died from the storm’s wrath. We are saddened at that news.

Cajun navy enters the fray

Then we have the Cajun navy, which has raced to the Carolinas from Texas and Lousiana. The Cajun navy is a collection of watercraft. As MSN.com has reported: As Hurricane Florence trudged west off the sea into the Carolinas, an armada of kayaks, fishing boats, shallow-draft duck hunting boats, airboats and pirogues moved north and east from Texas and Louisiana to meet the storm. As the rains and winds began to whip the coastline, the all-volunteer flotilla settled in.

Bring it on, they said. The Cajun Navy has arrived.

The task of this “fleet” has been to rescue Carolinians stranded by the storm’s fury. They have been pulling people out of their flooded homes and motor vehicles and taking them to safety.

Man, this is what Americans do for each other.

There’s more from MSN.com: Just as they did last summer in Texas during Hurricane Harvey, a group of grass-roots, ragtag search and rescuers have moved into Florence’s path, hoping to offer their services to the flooded, the marooned, the injured. Credited with rescuing thousands of people and pets during Harvey’s unprecedented rains, they plan to do it all again, a vigilante crew trying to assist the government’s rescue efforts.

Yes, federal, state and local governments are rallying at this moment to provide assistance. Yet it’s the outpouring of selflessness exemplified by the Cajun navy that gives many of us hope in the goodness of a nation that rushes to the aid of those in distress.

This story fills me with pride.

‘Enemies of the people’ answer the call

I feel the need to say a good word about the so-called “enemies of the American people.”

These are the men and women of the media who at this moment are placing themselves in harm’s way to report on the impact of Hurricane Florence as it slams the Carolina coast.

It should go without saying, that the media are there to report on the impact of the storm, to tell human stories of grit, courage, survival and heartache.

Except that the president of the United States has chosen to label the media unfairly as the “enemy.” Why? Because the media at times report news he deems to be negative. He calls negative news coverage “fake news.” He denigrates the hard work of these individuals.

Hurricane Florence is bringing considerable damage to the east coast, just as Hurricane Harvey did a year ago to the Gulf Coast, and as Hurricane Maria did in 2017 when it savaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands … and as Mother Nature does whenever she decides to unleash her untold wrath.

Americans who depend on the media need them to be there. Just as they do whenever circumstances warrant it, the media are answering the call.

They, too, deserve a nation’s prayers as they do their duty and tell the story as it unfolds in real time.

Puerto Ricans are Americans, too

I honestly don’t know if there’s been an uptick in the Age of Trump in episodes such as the one shown on the video below.

But it surely gives me pause. Yes, there seems to be more of these kinds of episodes being reported these days.

The video that has gone viral demonstrates the absolute hateful ignorance of some Americans. The guy in this video is berating a young woman for wearing a shirt that depicts the flag of Puerto Rico.

He said she needed to wear an “American” shirt. The woman reminded the man of what is obvious to most of us: that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.

An interesting back story developed as well. The police officer shown in the video didn’t respond to help the woman; he didn’t get the man to back off. He was put on leave by his department and then he resigned.

This whole Puerto Rico issue came to a head this past summer in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which savaged the island territory. The federal government was accused of dragging its feet to help the island’s 3.5 million residents. Why the delay? Critics said the government didn’t feel the need to rush to Puerto Ricans’ aid the way it did in, say, Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey.

But the idiot shown in this video personifies hateful ignorance that cannot be tolerated.

This is a contentious time in our nation’s history. We must not allow frightening bullies to intimidate their fellow Americans.

No ‘sightseeing’ here, Mr. POTUS

This picture showed up on my Facebook news feed. It’s a page from today’s Houston Chronicle, the newspaper that has told the compelling, heartbreaking and heroic stories stemming from the Hurricane Harvey onslaught.

There’s a point here, of course. The headline refers to that idiotic comment the other day from Donald Trump, who suggested that Texans were out looking at the storm in their boats, causing the rash of water rescues rescues from first responders.

He was on that conference call with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials when he blurted out yet another thoughtless comment, this time about Hurricane Harvey.

The storm dumped 50 inches of rain on the Gulf Coast in the span of 24 hours this past summer. Gawkers? Rubberneckers? Is that what Trump said was occurring out there in the midst of the storm?

The Houston Chronicle has offered the perfect response.

Texans were ‘watching Harvey from their boats’?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said the state is ready for “the next Harvey.”

Good deal, governor. I’ll need to know how the state prepares for a 50-inch deluge that falls within a 24-hour period.

But then the president of the United States weighed in with yet another patently absurd assertion about how many Texans responded to the peril that was bearing down on them.

Donald J. Trump said that Texas were “watching Harvey from their boats,” an act he said precipitated the large number of water rescues while the storm was battering the coast from the Coastal Bend, to Houston and the Golden Triangle.

Trump said this during a conference call with state officials: “Sixteen thousand people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane,” Trump said. “That didn’t work out too well.”

Trump’s idiocy has prompted an angry response from first responder officials. As the Houston Chronicle reported: “I didn’t see anyone taking the approach that would reflect his comments,” Gonzalez said. “I’ll be sure to invite the president to ride out the next hurricane in a jon boat in Galveston Bay the next time one approaches,” he added.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a fellow Republican, tweeted a message that talked about how Texans responded to help their neighbors and that they weren’t gawking at the storm aboard their boats in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Chronicle asked Abbott about Trump’s assertion, but the governor said he didn’t have “any information” on the matter.

As the paper noted: This isn’t the first time the president has made comments that seemed bizarre or ill-informed. For example, he claimed without evidence millions of people voted illegally and inflated the number of people attending his inauguration and other rallies. He wrongly claimed to have seen Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks on television.

So, let’s add this moronic assertion to the lengthy and no doubt growing list of presidential prevarications.

Idiotic.

Happy Trails, Part 107: When to take a look back?

AMARILLO, Texas — It’s been three months since we signed the papers turning over possession of a house we called “home” for 21-plus years to someone else.

I haven’t yet cast eyes on the place. Neither has my wife.

Why am I bringing this up? Retirement has brought a lot of emotion bubbling up. Letting go of a structure we had built in the fall and early winter of 1996 has presented me with a bit of dilemma.

You see, I have had no trouble looking back at previous homesteads. My wife and I recently took a quick gander at our former residence in Beaumont. I was pleased to see it so well-maintained, given that I was afraid the old street had been inundated by Hurricane Harvey in the summer of 2017. It didn’t happen … thank goodness!

When we have returned to Oregon on occasion over the years, I have driven by our former houses. I have seen the house where I lived from 1962 until 1971, taking note of how the old neighborhood has, um, “matured” over the years. I even have looked at the little ol’ house where I lived from 1953 until we moved to the ‘burbs in ’62.

There’s more: We’ve even cast wistful gazes at the houses where our grandparents lived, and where my sisters and I spent lots of time as children.

I haven’t yet been able to look at the Amarillo house. Maybe one day. Perhaps that time will arrive when we have spent a bit more time in our new digs in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

We have been in and out of Amarillo for the past several weeks, taking care of personal matters, driving around town to run this and that errand. Only once have we driven anywhere close to the old house in the southwest quadrant of the city.

I don’t think my feelings are unique. When I get around to looking back at the old place, well, maybe that will be the next rite of passage toward full-fledged retirement.