Tag Archives: Hurricane Harvey

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.

He can’t stop giving back

J.J. Watt just can’t get enough of doing good for others.

First, the stalwart Houston Texans defensive end went about raising money for Hurricane Harvey victims this past summer. He set the bar at about a quarter-million dollars; he ended up raising tens of millions of dollars for those who suffered grievous loss from the deluge that inundated Houston and the Golden Triangle.

Then there’s more.

Watt is going to pay for the funerals of the 10 people killed in the Santa Fe High School massacre that erupted the other day. Of the victims, eight of them were students; the other two were teachers.

J.J. Watt isn’t content with just letting his immense athletic talent pave the way toward notoriety. Oh, no. He exhibits his huge heart and compassion for others who are in pain.

Bless this generous young man.

This place is for the birds

HIGH ISLAND, Texas — I’m officially mad at myself.

My wife, sons and I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast for nearly 11 years and we never visited this place. It’s the Smith Oaks Rookery on High Island, about 40 or so miles from Beaumont.

It also is one of the premier “birding” sites on Earth. That’s right. One of the best in the world! People come from all across the world to see this place.

My wife and I visited this oasis with friends; a couple of our friends visited briefly with a visitor from Maine, who happened the know the species of a particular bird that caught our eye. She’d never been to Smith Oaks, but knew the bird’s identity.

The rookery stood in the path of Hurricane Harvey this past summer. It suffered some damage. The fresh water turned brackish because of the storm surge that swept ashore from the Gulf of Mexico.

On this day, though, it was full of birds. Herons, spoonbills, cormorants, egrets. They were everywhere. This happens to be the nesting period. Birds were building nests. Some were tending to and feeding young birds.

What a wonderful sight to see!

If you look at the picture I posted with this brief item, you’ll notice an alligator at the water’s edge. The beast looked to be about a 10-footer. He was one of two prehistoric creatures we saw lounging in the 70-degree sunshine.

The rookery is sponsored by the Houston Audoban Society. You pay a small fee to enter it. I’ll just say this right here: It is money well spent.

I need to ask myself now: Why in the world did we never visit this place when we lived just down the road?

I suppose it isn’t that uncommon to take for granted nature’s treasures that sit just beyond our doorstep. So, we had to drive here all the way from the other corner of this huge state to take in a natural wonder.

Harvey’s impact will be felt for a long time

BEAUMONT, Texas — Here’s the buzz my wife and I are getting while visiting friends in the Golden Triangle: Hurricane Harvey left a lasting — but not indelible — impact on this region.

We’re hearing that many neighborhoods remain under repair. The Northwest Forest neighborhood west of the city is “like a Third World country.” Streets are under repair. We noticed huge slash piles of brush stacked up under tall timber along Interstate 10 as we entered the city.

But the city will fight its way back.

Hurricane Harvey stormed ashore for a second blast in the late summer of 2017, dumping a record-setting 50 inches of rain in a 24-hour span of time. It deluged the city water system. Two of our friends told us of being without water for more than a week, while the electricity was restored in short order.

“Riverfront Park is destroyed,” we were told. The park used to be a site of outdoor activities next to the Civic Center along the Neches River. It’s now gone.

We all have read about huge fundraising efforts ongoing to assist the folks in Houston, about 80 miles west of the Golden Triangle on Interstate 10. Houston Texas all-pro defensive end J.J. Watt has become an iconic figure in the Bayou City for his work raising more than a quarter-billion dollars to assist in the repair of Texas’s largest city.

Yes, Houston needs help. The state and the federal government have stepped up to lend disaster assistance.

The pain stretches a good bit beyond the big city. Beaumont is feeling the pain brought by the storm’s rage.

I have no doubt that our friends in the Golden Triangle will recover. They will triumph. They will get on with their lives.

I’m betting, though, they’ll never listen again to the sound of rain with the same serenity it used to bring.