Tag Archives: Hurricane Harvey

Heroes are answering the call again

Here we go yet again.

Fires explode across tens of thousands of acres, driven great distances by hurricane-force winds. Homes are incinerated. People’s lives are put in extreme jeopardy. Prized possessions vanish in the extreme heat.

Who answers the call to help? The firefighters, police, emergency medical personnel. That’s who.

It’s happening yet again in southern California. Those dreaded Santa Ana winds are devastating a region and imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.

It should go without saying, but these men and women are the truest heroes imaginable. They run into the firestorm. They fight these unspeakable forces from the air and on the ground. They expose themselves to heat, flame, smoke and utter exhaustion.

And then we have neighbors helping neighbors. They, too, deserve our prayers and good wishes as they all — every one of them — battle to save what they can against forces far stronger than anything they can ever hope to control.

This has been a tough year for so many Americans. The Texas Gulf Coast and Florida are still battling to recover from the savagery of hurricane wind and rain. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands residents cannot yet get full power and potable water restored after enduring their own misery from yet another storm.

The Santa Rosa fires up north from the inferno that is engulfing southern California at this moment brought their own measure of agony to beleaguered residents and the responders who rushed to their aid.

We should salute them all. We should pray for their safety. We should hope for as speedy a recovery as is humanly possible.

Thank you, heroes. All of you make the rest of us so proud.

This award transcends athletic prowess

I cannot stop smiling when I think of this news item.

J.J. Watt and Jose Altuve have been named Sports Illustrated’s co-Sportspersons of the Year.

Why does this bring a broad smile to my face?

For starters, Watt — a standout All-Pro defensive end for the Houston Texans — hasn’t played a lot of football this calendar year; he has been injured. He did, however, step up in a big way to help Houston’s beleaguered residents recover from the battering delivered by Hurricane Harvey this past summer.

Watt helped raise more than $37 million for hurricane relief. He became the voice and the face of Houston’s still ongoing battle to rebuild after being inundated by record-breaking rainfall that Harvey brought with it.

And then there’s Jose Altuve, the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2017. He had a stellar season for the World Series champions. However, SI decide to honor both young men because Altuve, too, embodied the “Houston Strong” motto that has helped fuel the city’s recovery from Harvey’s wrath.

As the Associated Press reported: “I think the World Series gave the people a big smile and hope during the tough time they were getting through,” he said. “And I feel really happy that we did it because they really deserved it.”

For those of us who have grieved along with the Texas Gulf Coast residents affected by nature’s intense power, this award sends a heartfelt message that professional athletes — who often receive their share of criticism for their off-the-field antics — are quite capable of exhibiting heart and compassion to those who are struggling.

Indeed, many professional athletes have done much to lend their high profiles to worthy and noble efforts. This award should be seen as a statement of thanks for all the good work that these men and women do when most of aren’t looking.

Sports Illustrated chose well.

Climate change portends more ‘Harveys’

Hurricane Harvey once would be considered the storm of a lifetime.

Not any longer, according to a new study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT report suggests that by the end of this century, storms of the magnitude of Harvey could occur once every five-and-a-half years.

The study was put together by Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT. According to Texas Monthly:

“It’s very, very easy for people—even scientists—to get confused by this. You have to be very careful with what you mean by the event,” Emanuel says. The study looks at both Harvey-like storms hitting the greater Houston metro area (which he forecasts will go from a 2,000-year-storm to a 100-year-storm), as well as storms of that size making landfall anywhere in Texas, which is how we get to the 5 1/2 year number.

What do you suppose is the cause for this increasing frequency? Let me think about that for a moment. There. Time’s up. I am pretty certain we’re talking about climate change.

The deluge brought by Harvey dumped 50 inches of rain in a 24-hour period on Houston and the Golden Triangle this past summer. And that event came after Harvey roared ashore at Rockport with killer winds and immense tidal surge.

It will take years for the Texas Gulf Coast to recover fully from the storm. Texas officials have enlisted Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp to oversee the rebuilding of the coastal region from the Coastal Bend to the Golden Triangle. Think of what might await such an effort years from now. No sooner would the work be done than it might occur again.

Read the TM story here

The Texas Monthly piece I’ve posted with this blog entry doesn’t mention climate change/global warming explicitly. I have mentioned it here. I only can surmise as much to explain why the level of storms thought to occur once in a century might take place with such frightening frequency.

This is a terribly ominous trend for the coastal regions of our state.

The question now presents itself: What in the world are we going to do to either protect our coastal region from such destruction?

There’s also this: What are we going to do to reduce the number and ferocity of these storms?

Houston, you have reason to cheer

I’ll get this off my chest right off the top: I am not a huge fan of the Houston Astros, who’ve just won the 2017 World Series of baseball.

I am, however, cheering mightily — if quietly at this late hour — for the city of Houston, which has suffered grievously at the hand of Mother Nature.

Hurricane Harvey inundated Houston, along with the Golden Triangle, where my family and I lived for nearly 11 years before we moved to the High Plains of Texas. We have many friends in Beaumont and in Houston.

They’ve been through hell, along with millions of other Gulf Coast residents.

Tonight, though, they are smiling because the Astros won the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Astros have won the first Series in franchise history. That’s a 55-year drought!

Houston needs this win to help lift its spirits. It is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey’s wrath. Tonight, though, my guess is that the daunting recovery seems a little less so as Houston and Gulf Coast baseball fans celebrate the Astros’ biggest win in their history.

How ’bout them Astros!

This year’s World Series is going to carry very special meaning to one of the cities represented in Major League Baseball’s championship event.

I’m talking about Houston, Texas, from where the Houston Astros hail. They won the American League pennant with a stirring seventh-game victory over the New York Yankees.

OK, here goes. I’m going to pull extra hard for the Astros to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

Houston has been through Hell on Earth since Hurricane Harvey inundated the nation’s fourth-largest city under 50 inches of rain that fell over a 24-hour period. The heartbreak and cataclysmic misery felt throughout Houston defies description.

Indeed, as the Astros and the Dodgers prepare for the World Series, the city is still seeking to reconstruct itself. Its millions of residents are trying to make sense of their lives upended by the deluge.

My heart usually rests with the American League team as it is. I grew up rooting hard for the New York Yankees. I was a Mickey Mantle-worshiping kid. Indeed, I truly enjoyed big-league baseball long before the Age of Free Agency changed the game forever by giving players opportunities to move from team to team — which they have done with stunning regularity for the four-plus decades since free agency became the vogue in MLB.

I used to follow the careers of players who stayed with one team their entire career: Ted Williams (Red Sox), Stan Musial (Cardinals), Roberto Clemente (Pirates), Cal Ripken Jr. (Orioles), Tony Gwynn (Padres).

I long have watched the Astros compete in the National League. Then they switched to the AL, which means the Astros are the first big-league franchise in baseball history to compete for the World Series crown representing both major leagues; they were swept a few years ago by the Chicago White Sox.

Here we are. In the moment. Houston has suffered terribly from the savage beating delivered by nature’s wrath. Its residents are in dire need of something to cheer.

A World Series title by the Houston Astros would be the nearly perfect tonic for a city in deep distress.

‘Real disaster’ struck Texas … no kidding!

Texas emergency officials have reported that Hurricane Harvey has killed 88 people.

Eight-eight families have lost loved ones. They are grieving to this day. Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast twice, first as a Category 3 hurricane and then as a tropical storm.

Watching the storm’s savagery from afar, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that it constitutes a “major disaster.” The hurricane blasted the Coastal Bend region with killer winds and storm surge. The tropical storm deluged Houston and the Golden Triangle with unprecedented rainfall: 50 inches in one 24-hour span of time, a record for the continental United States of America.

Harvey hit us real hard

I want to mention this because of something that Donald John Trump Sr. told our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. He seemed to chide them because — at the time of his visit — “only” 16 people had been killed by Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the island’s power grid and its potable water supply.

Yet, the president seemed to suggest that Puerto Rico was “fortunate” to have suffered so little loss of life, unlike what happened to New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina stormed ashore.

Well, I guess I ought to remind the president that the Texas coast didn’t suffer the amount of deaths that other storms have brought, but he dare not dismiss the damage from the Coastal Bend to the Golden Triangle as anything short of a major disaster.

Setting the record straight on Trump critiques

I feel the need to mount a brief self-defense.

Some folks on my social media network have accused me of being perpetually negative toward Donald J. Trump. That is not true.

I pledged when Trump became president of the United States that I would praise him when he did something praiseworthy. Yes, those events have been limited, but I believe I have been faithful to my pledge. For instance:

* I praised Trump’s signing of a bill that made it easer for whistleblowers to rat out wrongdoing within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

* Trump drew praise from yours truly for launching the missile strikes against Syria after the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its citizens, killing many civilians.

* The president and the first lady earned kudos from me when they went to Houston after Hurricane Harvey savaged the Texas coast.

* I offered a follow-up comment on the president taking selfies with victims of Harvey’s wrath, showing a glint of humanity.

* I offered a good word for Trump when he went to Las Vegas recently to lend aid and comfort to the victims of that horrific massacre while offering words of support to the first responders who acted so heroically.

One critic of this blog calls me “bitter” over Hillary’s loss to Trump; another critic thinks all “liberals” look for reasons to speak ill of the president, and he thinks I’m one of ’em.

I’m not bitter. Disappointed, yes. As for looking for reasons to criticize Donald Trump, I never have to hunt for them. They do seem to present themselves with stunning regularity.

So … there you have it. The president has earned praise from yours truly. I want to offer more. First, though, he’s got to earn it.

Meanwhile, Texas still cleans up after its own tragedy

The nation is rightfully horrified and increasingly concerned about the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Puerto Rico.

It is, though, the latest in a savage series of events that have thrown millions of Americans into varying states of misery.

The Texas Tribune has published a gallery of photographs from a region which I have some intimate familiarity. The Golden Triangle also is recovering, albeit slowly, from its own battle with Mother Nature’s unspeakable force and fury.

Here are the photos from the Texas Tribune.

The picture above was taken in Port Arthur, one of the cities comprising the Golden Triangle; the other two are Orange and Beaumont, where my family and I lived for nearly 11 years.

All three cities, along with Houston, were pummeled by the deluge that poured out of the sky from Harvey, which made its initial landfall at Rockport along the Coastal Bend.

Texas has rallied behind the many thousands of Golden Triangle residents who today are still seeking to reassemble their shattered lives. Some of them are friends of my wife and me and former colleagues of mine. Our hearts break for them.

We intend to visit our former haunts. We hope it is sooner rather than later. Our time today is occupied by our effort to prepare to relocate eventually from our home in Amarillo.

Still, I think daily of my friends who are still struggling to regain their equilibrium in the wake of the monstrous storm.

My hope is that the rest of Texas — and the nation — will keep them in their thoughts and prayers, too. I know we’ve got a lot on our minds these days. Puerto Rico is in desperate straits. Florida also is recovering from its own tragedy, the one named Hurricane Irma.

We all possess big enough hearts to wish well for all of our stricken fellow Americans.

No good news in media? Whoa! Hold on here!

Every now and then I feel the need to rise the defense of my former media colleagues who get pilloried unfairly for the way they report the news.

Today provided me that opportunity. It was in a fascinating venue, to say the least.

Our Sunday school class broke into small-group discussions this morning. We had watched a video that talked about extending blessings and expressing gratitude.

Then one of our table mates asserted that “you never hear” good news in the media. Our friend indicated that the media are concerned only about bad news, about negativity, about tragedy and sadness.

“I have to respectfully disagree with you,” I said.

The context of the gentleman’s assertion was the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort and he sought to make a point that the media don’t report on all the effort being made to help the victims fight back from the misery brought to them by the killer storm.

I couldn’t restrain myself. I noted that the media have reported time and time again about the positive aspects of the storm recovery. How did the public know, for example, about the hundreds of relief volunteers lining up at storm shelters in Houston and along the Gulf Coast? The media reported it!

That’s just one example.

My wife noted correctly media consumers aren’t likely to be drawn to be positive news, but they certainly are drawn to negative coverage. It’s the nature of the proverbial beast.

I spent nearly four decades working in the media. I have challenged readers of the newspapers where I worked who have complained to me about “all the negative news” in the paper to look through any edition of the paper and count the stories that have positive spins and those with negative spins. I’ve always believed they would be surprised to learn that the paper contained many more positive stories than negative ones.

In this Internet Age, one can find links to news organizations’ home pages that guide readers to “positive news.” My wife wondered this morning, “I wonder how many readers actually open those links and read those stories.”

On a whole array of issues covering the complete landscape of reportage, the media continue to do their job with professionalism, compassion and dedication. Do all media representatives live up to that standard? No, but you can find bad actors in every single profession or craft in this country or around the world!

I would argue that the media’s focus on negative vs. positive news isn’t necessarily the issue. The question ought to be asked of the public that consumes this information.

Houses of worship deserve FEMA assistance

I can almost hear the grumbling now: The U.S. Constitution prohibits any relationship between government and religious organization, which means churches shouldn’t be eligible for federal emergency relief assistance.

I’ll respond this way: As Col. Sherman T. Potter would say: Mule muffins!

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have asked for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help houses of worship ravaged by the wrath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey.

Abbott and Paxton wrote in their letter to FEMA: “When Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, wreaking devastation over a huge swath of the Texas Gulf Coast, scores of churches and houses of worship jumped into action to serve thousands of Americans in their time of need.”

Indeed, those houses of worship also suffered grievously from Harvey’s savagery, just as every other inhabitant along the Texas Gulf Coast.

I get what the U.S. Constitution says about the prohibition against making laws that establish a state religion. This is different. FEMA stands as an agency committed to helping all Americans.

Harvey delivered a killer punch to Texas. It brought substantial misery all along the coast from Corpus Christi to the Golden Triangle — and many miles inland.

Everyone affected by the horrific storm — including houses of worship — deserve assistance from the federal government that aims to serve them.