Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Flood of Biblical Proportions



It’s hard to watch the coverage of Hurricane Harvey without feeling a heavy heart and sympathy for the people in Texas and Louisiana. I’ve had it on from morning to night since it started a week ago. I could give myself more breaks, turn off the TV, but that’s hard to do when people in Houston and the other effected areas are still in serious peril due to the catastrophic flooding. I’ve run into some cynics on political debate sites this week who think they are too smart to be caught in situations where their lives depend on the goodness of strangers and the professionalism of first responders. They are critical of everyone from the Harvey victims, the local officials, the building codes even the media but I take comfort in the fact that the cynics aren't winning any popularity contests. I also take comfort in the fact that the Good Samaritans far outnumber the handful of looters in situations like these flood victims are going through. As Chris Cuomo from CNN says, “Disasters bring out the bad in bad people and the good in good people.”

So many heroic stories are coming out of this disaster that it reinforces your faith in the goodness of mankind. People like “Mattress Mack” in Houston who opened up his two furniture stores and warehouses to shelter evacuees---his beds, sofas and chairs helping 300+ people at each location. And the restaurants inside his stores and near-by are cooking meals for them. People like the 29 year old screenwriter with no training who took charge in a small shelter in a desperate situation in Rockport. He organized volunteers to plug leaks, pool food and water and forage the building for things they could use like hand sanitizers plus look after the frailest people in the group of 125 people. Heroic people like those with water crafts of all kinds who came in from every which way to help evaluate people who’d been stranded in houses with water filling up the first floors or wading in knee-to-waist-high water. And the people like those who organized conveys headed to the disaster areas with water, food, clothing and other necessities and to work on restoring the power lines. The enormity of the on-going needs of the flood and hurricane victims is hard to wrap your head around. And it's not just Texas. Other states also felt the wrath of Harvey. 

The Domino Effect: It comes with no surprise they are now saying gasoline will be in short supply for the North East due to the largest oil refinery in the nation (at Port Arthur, Texas) being off line and it will take a week or two to get it up and running again. Already gas prices here have jumped up and you know building supplies will be in severe, short supply down the road. Beef prices will also sky-rocket. Louisiana has taken 3,000 Texans into their shelters and Sunday our local Noel Project is expecting 100 stray dogs from Houston that are being moved from their humane society to make room for temporary housing for dogs with known owners staying in evacuation shelters. I live near a FEMA trailer storage yard and I’m guessing I’ll see them moving out next week. And the process of reaching an agreement on how to pay for the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history begins when our lawmakers get back to D.C. next week. By the time the Domino Effect plays out it will go far and wide, in tiny and large ways.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as of Friday says that 400,400 people have registered for assistance and The Red Cross says it has 258 shelters set up, having moved 400 of their trucks and 1,500 volunteers down to the area with more volunteers being trained for down the road. I’ve lost track of the counties now included in the Federal Disaster Declaration but FEMA is estimating that185,000 private homes were damaged, not to mention the infrastructure that will need replacing. So far FEMA seems to be doing a good job, having learned from the mistakes made with hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. And every branch of our military has been deployed to help including Black Hawk helicopters usually deployed in war zones. Then there are the celebrities who are challenging one another to match their donations to disaster relief organizations, throwing around numbers as high a million each. Their challenge chain keeps growing. I could go on and on about all the heroic, positive and uplifting stories and acts of kindness that catastrophic Hurricane Harvey has inspired, but I’d rather document Harvey with some of the more iconic photos I’ve seen this week. ©




volunteers coming to help





Houston FEMA Shelter



cattle drive to higher ground

dog evacuating himself and his bag of food

24 comments:

  1. That dog photo carrying his bag of food was a favorite of mine, too. Also, enjoyed an interview with the family member dog was with describing the circumstances. Most human beings do rise to the occasion to aid others in dire catastrophes, I think. My What will matter is how long such assistance continues and how much direct help is available for those who have lost their homes and can't rebuild on sites. Expect most had mortgages on their homes, loans on cars -- house, car, gone but loan isn't.

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    1. It's mind boggling, isn't it. Most people didn't have flood insurance---I heard only 20%. FEMA doesn't pay enough to rebuild. It's my understanding what they do is give money for disaster debris removable and temporary housing. Low interest loans will be available. But many of these people will be without jobs for awhile too and like you said, they will still have to pay their mortgages. It would be a financial nightmare.

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  2. There were three kinds of people down there: the heroes, the victims, and the media. I was happy to see the media out there and reporting the good that the heroes were doing for the others. Watching as much as I could, I went through a boatload of emotions. So much sadness, but gladness in the faces of those being helped. Then there were those poor animals. Yep, I was on one continuous roller coaster ride. I can't help how I feel. I tried not to watch, but you know ...

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    1. I agree with everything you've written. It's been a roller coaster of emotions. Without the media coverage they wouldn't have raised so much money so quickly or been able to get so much help coming their way. So I don't understand the criticism of them. The animal recuses have been far more organized this time around, too. I think they've found there is less loss of human life when people don't have to leave their animals behind. It's going to be a long recovery process!

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  3. Oh gosh, I don't know how you can have that on TV all day long. It is so sad. And you are right ... it's really after all the water subsides when the victims will need help.

    What is with Mother Nature this year???

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    1. I'm a news junkie, I admit it. I literally turn the TV on before getting out of bed and I turn it off just before drifting off to sleep. I do however, multi-task so while I might have the TV on, I'm not always tuned in to what's playing. If I could, I'd have one of those setup where you could watch several channels at one.

      What is it with Mother Nature this year? I've seen reports that say the warmer waters in the gulf due to global warmer was what caused the hurricane to stall over Texas and drop the 54 inches of rain. I'm sure that debate will heat up as we go forward, given Trump that has canceled out so my of our environmental protections.

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  4. It's just so awful, and I've been knee-deep in repercussions at my job all week... it's just so awful and there will be no quick fixes anywhere. So sad.

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    1. That's what's so mind-boggling is the fact there are no quick fixes for these people. It will effect their lives for years. "Sad" is the perfect word.

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  5. AS for those being critical, one can only hope Karma is paying attention. This constant coverage brings out a range of emotions. Tears at the heartbreak, warm smiles and full hearts as we see strangers helping strangers. Old folks and children with dazed expressions. The heart warms as we hear of all the gracious giving but then the teeth grind tight as we see those who are taking advantage by gouging or theft. Again--come on Karma, do your thing. The sad thing is when the cameras go away, the misery will still be there for a long time.

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    1. Let's hope karma is paying attention. Unfortunately, what you said about the cameras going away is true, but on the good side, they say FEMA has totally revamped itself since learning the lessons from the past plus computerization will prevent the long wait times for help to come through. But there are still a few key jobs at FEMA that the administration hasn't yet nominated anyone for and that's going to matter soon when current management gets worn out.

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  6. It has been heartening to see people rising to the occasion in Texas. I always take reports of looting in these disasters with a grain of salt anyway. While there are probably some true, greedy looters out there, I remember seeing a news report about "looting" during Katrina which turned out to be New Orleans residents flooded out of their homes with no place to go and nothing to eat who liberated some food and baby diapers from stores that were closed. -Jean

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    1. A good many of the stories have been uplifting---the human spirit and the people putting themselves at risk to help. And very different from what I remember about Katrina.

      On the political site where I go to there was a thread that went on for pages where over 100 people weighed in and voted on whether or not looting is still a crime if you were taking food during a disaster. Surprisingly---or maybe not---28 people thought it was okay to shoot someone looting a grocery store, 90 didn't.

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  7. This is a terrible tragedy and the people who are cynical and think they are immune to needing help one day God bless them just may be in for a surprise.

    I am happy to see that people are reaching out to help, yes there are looters but there are far more good people than bad. This all breaks your heart but there is light at the end of the tunnel, Thank God for everyone who is lending a hand in any way because this is what we are supposed to do.

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    1. I'm always amazed by the smugness of people who think they are immune to bad things happening to them. They are in severe denial. Thankfully, most people put their best forward in times like this and help in any way they can.

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  8. I want to send money to soooooo many different causes! This one was a no brainer though. Most of the fundraising will happen NOW, before anything gets back to normal. Hopefully it's being managed well. Every time I've checked, the American Red Cross does the best job, with a 92% payout of donations.

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    1. I know what you mean. I just transferred money to my PayPal from my bank to make donations. So I have to wait a few days before I'll be able to do it. I'm thinking of the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Humane Society because they are always first on the the scene and their resources will be sorely stained if we get another hurricane or disaster back to back. What I'm having trouble finding is information on what we can to to help with the fires out west.

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  9. Actually, the Red Cross may not be the best. Their corporate director makes nearly $400,000.00 a year and the organization was scolded for not paying out what they should. They are now up to 92% because they took a bad hip, publicity wise. Some of the religious charities are much better with their percentage of payout, like Samaritan's Purse and the Salvation Army.
    I worry about all the people wading around in that contaminated water, also filled with snakes and alligators. Can you imagine coming home and finding a few Water Moccasins curled up on your couch? I don't know that area will ever recover, but FEMA is doing a much better job this time.

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    1. Did you see the clip of the seven foot alligator someone found in their living room? I can't imagine the contamination and the growing smells down there. FEMA has done a lot of revamping of their everything they do after studying what went wrong with past hurricanes plus computerized stuff that wasn't sufficiently online before. It seems to have paid off.

      I don't have a problem with the Red Cross director getting $400,000 a year. The Red Cross takes in 634 million a year and you can't get talented people for the job if they don't pay a competitive wage. Samaritian's Purse takes in 566 million, not far behind. Franklin Graham III who runs it make more than $626,000 to run it PLUS he gets his other salary from the church in addition.

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  10. The photos you selected are interesting to me. The kayak near the Braesmont stop sign is about two blocks from a friend's house. The photo of the woman in the wheelchair was taken at an assisted living facility about five miles from my place. The cattle? They were just about everywhere.

    One thing people who live elsewhere don't quite comprehend, I think, is the sheer scope of this. From landfall in Rockport to the turn inland at the Golden Triangle is 300 miles of coastline. Because two high pressure systems kept the storm from turning, it kept drawing energy from the Gulf, and turning it into rain. It wasn't until that high pressure moved that we got some relief, although Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky might have wished we'd kept it to ourselves! Now, the rivers are the problem. There's nothing Houston or any of the other coastal towns could do about that. The amount of water pouring down from the inland areas is unbelievable. The flood plains of the San Bernard and Colorado rivers already have joined, and some predict they'll join the Brazos to form one gigantic flood plane across three counties. I keep saying unbelievable, but it is.

    You might be surprised to see how much progress is being made here already. In my town, there were 300 people in a shelter immediately after the storm. I don't know what the total is now, but yesterday it was 35, and the city was asking people to stop donating goods locally because the needs had been met. Of course there's the rebuilding process to come, with all the complications of FEMA and flood insurance and such, but as for immediate relief, that was taken care of.

    I had a dozen or so friends with significant water, and all of those houses have been stripped out already. Now, they're just waiting on the adjusters and getting in line for contractors.

    My very best friend evacuated to Temple with another friend. They were on their way home when they stopped to walk the dogs in Brenham. My friend fell, and broke her hip. She ended up having surgery in College Station, and now is awaiting the time she can be discharged to a rehab facility near her home in Bellaire (a part of Houston). Just to complicate matters, she had three feet of water in her house. As she said, "At least going to rehab means I'll have a place to stay while I sort all this out."

    Whatever most people are down here, they certainly don't see themselves as victims.

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    1. Good point about calling Texans 'victims.' No one wants to be called a victim when what they are are survivors.

      I'm not surprised about people already starting the process of cleaning out their damaged homes. Time matters and people do pitch in. Same thing happens after most disasters. But this one was so wide-spread, it's hard to grasp how complicate life got and will be for a long while down your way.

      Sorry about your friend's broken leg. That must be frustrating knowing there is so much to do and she's out of commission. I hope the next hurricane, Imma, doesn't hit the USA because I think emergency workers from FEMA and the Red Cross, etc., are getting worn out and spread thin as it is.

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  11. I just was reading some of the data that's coming in now, and thought you'd be interested in this, which truly amazed me:

    "GPS data show Harvey's flood was so large it flexed Earth's crust, pushing Houston down by ~2 cm." When you consider that a pint of water weighs a pound, that makes sense.

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  12. This was such a horrible event. I hate to say it, but we will have more in the future. The waters are rising and the planet is warming. The survivors and responders and volunteers are amazing and so inspiring. Such a sad situation.

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    1. I know and I don't think we'll have to wait long to see it with Ima on the way. And right now India is dealing with a worse flood than we've got here with over 1,000 deaths so far. Global warming is real and contributing to the rising waters and warmer waters that caused hurricane Harvey to stall over Texas. We had an amazing response...responders and volunteers deserve all the praise they can get.

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