Wednesday, September 21, 2005

We've Got a Situation Here...

Here in Southeast Texas the mood is one of nervous anticipation. Most people are either leaving or preparing to leave. The highway through Lumberton is a major evacuation route, and this afternoon it was already clogged with northbound traffic. Some of this traffic is probably from Galveston and Chambers Counties, which are now under a mandatory evacuation.

Michelle and I have been preparing for the worst. Early this morning I went to Home Depot and got boards to cover our windows. Good thing I went when I did. Later in the afternoon I returned to get some wood screws, and the line for lumber stretched to the back of the store. Michelle visited Walmart on her way to work and stocked up on essentials - canned food, batteries, etc.

Here in Southeast Texas we had record-breaking heat today, with temperatures rising to over 100 degrees. The weather was sunny with only a slight breeze, and our drought continues unabated. No indication of impending danger. If not for the news reports you would never know that a monsterous storm was swirling toward us.

We are very fortunate to live in an age of telecommunication, satellite tracking, and accurate weather modeling. In earlier times people had little warning prior to the arrival of deadly storms. The hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 killed 8,000 people and was the worst weather disaster in U.S. history (despite the recent hyperbole regarding Katrina). At least now we know when a catastrophe is on the way.

I'm using a few vacation days this week, then I'm scheduled to start work again on Saturday. Hurricane Rita is also predicted to make landfall on Saturday, so the question is, do I stay and work, or evacuate before the storm arrives? Walgreens has taken the position that unless there is a mandatory evacuation order in the county where you are employed (Hardin County, in my case) you are expected to work. Managers who fail to come to work, in the absence of a mandatory evacuation order, will be summarily fired. I'm sure most of our employees plan on leaving town ahead of the storm, and by Saturday we may not have enough people to keep the store open.

This morning I spent a couple of hours in my backyard searching the sky for raptors. Between 10am and 11am I counted over 380 Broad-winged Hawks! Such large numbers are not unusual along the Texas Gulf Coast during migration, and there is no reason to think that this was a storm-related event. I didn't see any other raptor species among the many Broad-wings, although I later had an adult Red-tailed Hawk circling over my yard. A Black-and-White Warbler that flew into a neighbor's tree was a new addition to my yard list.


At 1:41 AM, Anonymous thecommonanglican said...

You are from Lumberton? Do you know David Bellow? He is from that town and goes to A&M with me.


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