Tag Archives: Texas Gulf Coast

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?

Happy Trails, Part 50

BEND, Ore. — Our retirement journey has taken us to the place where our life together began slightly more than 46 years ago.

My wife and I got married at 2 p.m. on Sept. 4, 1971. Then we jumped into Dad’s car and drove to our honeymoon location in the middle of the Central Oregon Cascade Range.

But this post isn’t about that event. It’s about how I am discovering new things about our incredible journey so many years later.

We came here to visit with a couple members of our family who retired here five years ago. We have shared a lot of memories, some thoughts about current events and some views about what the future holds for all of us.

I mentioned to my cousin that he seems “well-grounded here.” I said he seems to “know the lay of the land.” He answered, “But you know the lay of the land in Amarillo, yes?” Absolutely, I answered, but “we’ve lived there for 22 years.”

We’re preparing the next phase of our life together. I told my cousin that we are preparing now to learn the “lay of the land” in a new community. We don’t yet know the precise location of where we’ll end up. We do know that we’re going to start over. We’re going to make new friends. We’re going to establish our identity among people who at this precise moment are complete strangers to my wife and me.

Does it frighten either of us? Certainly not my wife. She’s transitions well from place to place. Not me, either. I’ve learned already that I am far more adaptable than I ever gave myself credit for being. I discovered it when our young family moved from Oregon to the Texas Gulf Coast in 1984. We had a great run there. Then my wife and I moved up yonder to the Texas Panhandle.

We’re getting ready for yet another big change.

Thus, the challenge awaits.

I’ve long thought that we all need one final major challenge in our life. For me, at least, this one is 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.

Trump makes good on Harvey pledge; thank you, Mr. President

Donald Trump’s pledge of $1 million to help the victims of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey had been met with some skepticism.

Critics actually doubted the president would deliver the goods, that he would make the donation he promised to make.

The president has delivered.

He has sent $300,000 each to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross; Samaritans Purse and Reach Out America each got $100,000; the president sent $25,000 each to a number of other charities, including ASPCA, the Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity.

They’re all doing great work to help people — and their pets — recover from the devastation brought by the monster storm that tore across the Texas and Louisiana coasts in late August.

I want to applaud the president for making good on his pledge. Some of that money is going to help my peeps — friends and former colleagues — who live along the Texas Coast and who have been coping with the misery brought by the storm.

We hear on occasion that the best way to help so many people affected by these tragedies is simply to send money. Donald Trump, a man of considerable means, has done the right thing.

Well done, sir.

J.J. Watt now can concentrate fully on his day job

J.J. Watt is a tremendous football player.

He also is a young man with a huge heart. You see, this Houston Texans defensive lineman took it upon himself to help raise money for the stricken residents of his adopted hometown, Houston.

He started out with a goal of raising $200,000 for those who were suffering from the wrath of Hurricane Harvey, which pummeled Houston in late August.

Watt has called a halt to his fundraising effort. He’s raised a cool $37 million.

Watt shows his true stuff.

The National Football League honors one of its players annually with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. It’s named after the late, great Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, who routinely devoted much of his off-the-field activity to helping those who needed help.

J.J. Watt has gone not just above and beyond the call to help his fellow Houstonian and other Texas Gulf Coast residents. He has orbited Earth and at least a couple of other planets in providing assistance to those who remain in serious trouble as a result of Harvey’s savagery.

As Sports Illustrated reports: “Watt recently closed the fundraiser after raising an astonishing $37,097,298, which is more than 185 times his initial goal. More than 200,000 people donated, meaning Watt got as many donors as he expected dollars.”

Astonishing, yes?

I believe young J.J. has earned the Payton Man of the Year Award.

A-Team steps up to help Harvey victims

These five men belong to an exclusive club, with an exclusivity exceeded only by the former pope’s club.

They are the five men who’ve been elected president of the United States. They have gathered for a joint fundraising effort to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which savaged the Texas coast in late August.

They are collaborating on a One America Appeal website that asks Americans to donate what they can to aid those who are stricken by the pummeling delivered by Harvey.

Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have recorded a video that kicks off the fundraising effort. My hunch is that it might be updated as soon as Hurricane Irma finishes delivering more destruction to Florida in the next few days.

But this is bipartisanhip to the max. Two Republicans and three Democrats have locked arms in a call to aid our fellow Americans.

See the video here.

As President Bush 43 noted, “We’ve got more love in Texas than water.”

Considering the amount of rain — 50 inches of it! — that fell on Texas during Harvey’s unwelcome visit, that’s really saying something.

Thank you, Messrs. President.

First responders deserve our honor 24/7

First responders are back in the news.

They’ve answered the call in recent days to assist along the Texas Gulf Coast. They are responding at this moment to those who’ll need them in some U.S. territories in the Caribbean and in South Florida. They answer the call daily when homes burn, when motor vehicles crash or when people suffer an assortment of medical emergencies.

The Texas Panhandle War Memorial is going to play host on Monday to a ceremony commemorating the 16th year since the 9/11 attacks on our nation. It starts at 8:45 a.m. at the memorial grounds, next to the Randall County Courthouse Annex on South Georgia Street and the Canyon E-Way.

I feel the need to speak about those individuals. We ought to honor them daily, maybe even hourly. We should thank them when we encounter them.

The War Memorial seems a fitting place to honor them. After all, the memorial offers tribute to those who gave their last full measure in defense of the nation. Those plaques that surround the garden contain the names of the fallen from the Texas Panhandle dating back to the Spanish-American War of 1898.

When you think about it, those are the names of first responders of another kind. They went to war. They fought and died in defense of the nation they all loved.

I admit to being not as faithful in expressing my own gratitude to first responders — the firefighters, police officers, the emergency medical techs, the military personnel. We see them all the time. My wife and I — on occasion — have paid for service personnel’s meals.

But we all ought to extend a hand when we encounter, say, firefighters shopping for groceries at the supermarket or police officers having lunch. You get the idea.

They perform a unique service to the public they serve. They run toward danger when it presents itself.

I am left to use this forum to offer a simple two-word salute, which I know is insufficient.

Thank you.

A&M chancellor takes on a huge new rebuilding task

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation along the Texas Gulf Coast has delivered an important political metaphor.

It is that human misery crosses party lines. To that end — and this appointment likely isn’t being done to illustrate that point expressly — Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has tapped a leading Texas Democrat to lead the Gulf Coast rebuilding effort.

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who’s got a most-demanding full-time job already, is going to lead that rebuilding.

Indeed, Chancellor Sharp has serious skin in this game. He served in the Texas Legislature — in the House and then the Senate — while living in Victoria, a community that was rocked by Harvey’s first landfall on the Texas coast. So, he feels the pain of the folks suffering the ongoing misery that Harvey left behind.

Sharp also is the latest Democrat elected to statewide office in Texas. He served as comptroller of public accounts from 1991 until 1999. I have no particular reason for mentioning that, other than to note that Sharp’s partisan affiliation is well-known; it speaks well, too, of Abbott’s willingness to reach across the political aisle to find someone to lead this massive effort.

I join the rest of the state in wishing the chancellor well and Godspeed as he takes on this huge task. He surely knows what awaits him as he takes charge of the governor’s new task force.

It’s big, John Sharp. Real big.

Climate change is real, NW fires notwithstanding

I’m seeing a bit of social media chatter that needs to be put in perspective.

Some of it is conflating a couple of key issues: climate change and those horrific fires that have scarred many thousands of forestland in Oregon and Washington.

Critics of climate change deniers are pointing to the Oregon and Washington fires as evidence that climate change is real.

I agree with the notion that Earth’s climate is changing, that its temperatures are warming. The fires that began along Eagle Creek just east of Portland, though, were the result of a dumbass who allegedly was playing with fireworks in tinder-dry woodlands above the Columbia River.

Oregon State Police have a suspect. He’s a teenager. He is a minor, so we won’t know his name, which I guess gives me license to refer to him as a dumbass.

Back to the issue of climate change/global warming. It’s playing out far from the Pacific Northwest.

The Texas Gulf Coast just got hit with a Category 3 hurricane/tropical storm. It dumped 50-plus inches of rain on Houston and the Golden Triangle; it brought killer winds to the Coastal Bend. It has created unspeakable grief, agony and misery along the coast.

But wait! Now there’s a Category 5 storm blasting its way toward South Florida. It has winds of 185 mph; gusts are reaching 225 mph.

Meteorologists and other scientists are speaking in unison — more or less — on this subject: We’re going to see more catastrophic storms in quick succession in the future because of climate change.

The debate, though, centers on the cause of this change. The scientific consensus appears to suggest that human activity has exacerbated the change, through carbon emissions and immense deforestation.

The fire will be extinguished. I remain supremely confident that the forest will be restored over a lengthy period of time. Humankind can repair the damage done by a single thoughtless idiot.

The frequency of those storms? The rising sea levels? The intensity of the savagery that boils up out of the ocean?

That problem requires our immediate attention, if only we’d stop bickering over whether the climate is changing. It is. Let’s get busy finding solutions to this worldwide crisis.

Feeling cursed by Nature’s wrath

Forgive me if I sound as if I’m feeling cursed these days.

Mother Nature is drawing a bead on communities I know well. Beaumont and the rest of the Golden Triangle along the Texas Gulf coast is bailing out from the deluge dumped on the region by a storm named Harvey.

Most of our friends are OK. Not all, though. There’s a lot of heartbreak and agony to go around as the Triangle struggles to recover from the Harvey’s savagery. Our hearts go out to them … along with our prayers.

Now as we look in the other direction, toward the Pacific Northwest, I see that my hometown is under siege from an entirely different foe.

Fire!

I see pictures on social media from the Columbia River Gorge, one of the world’s greatest natural splendors, and my heart breaks all over again. Flames are consuming many acres of virgin timber. Historical structures are in jeopardy.

Portland, the city of my birth, is now being showered with ash, reminding residents there of when Mount St. Helens exploded in the spring and summer of 1980, blanketing the city with a fine coat of volcanic ash.

The picture above is of downtown Portland. That ain’t fog, man! It’s smoke billowing over the city from the fires that are burning not far away.

We’re getting ready to head that way for a little R&R. Our trip isn’t coming up in the next few days, but we’ll be hauling our RV in that direction fairly soon. My hope is that the fires are quenched soon. I have considerable faith in the firefighting crews that are on the job. They’re pretty damn good at fighting those forest fires.

Their expertise comes from experience, just as the Gulf Coast rescue crews and other first responders have plenty of experience dealing with the aftermath of killer hurricanes and tropical storms.

But these monstrous events make me nervous in the extreme and they break my heart for tangible reasons.