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Flood flashbacks

GAYS MILLS - It was nearly impossible to avoid seeing and hearing the disaster coverage last week. It was also hard to watch and hear the news.  It still is.  Very good reporting continues on the ongoing recovery. Hurricane Harvey, and then the flooding it caused when it didn’t move on like a regular storm, was awful to behold. The coverage is and was extensive and matches the size of the catastrophe.  

This was reportedly the second most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history. Recovery costs are estimated to be around $100 billion. That figure seems low. (I’ve since heard the figure $165 billion.) Katrina wound up costing $149 billion 12 years ago. Fortunately, Harvey didn’t involve as much loss of life as Katrina, but there is plenty of financial loss.

If you’ve been through a flood, and many of us have, seeing a subsequent flood dredges up all kinds of memories and thoughts. We get flashbacks. We know what the people hit by a flood are seeing and feeling And smelling. So many people down south have lost everything: homes, clothes, vehicles, etc. It’s instant homelessness on a grand scale.

When a flood occurs, everyone affected is in the same boat. If you’re lucky enough to be in an actual boat that is. It was heartening to see the civilian efforts at rescue and aid that we saw, supplementing the  help provided by government entities and the military. All differences and barriers between people fell away with the rising water. Flooded people needed help and they got it, sometimes from surprising sources. Plenty of flood heroes emerged in Texas and Louisiana.

A fathom is six feet. Nearly a fathom of rain fell in the Houston area during this stalled storm. I doubt there is any landscape that can take that much rain in so short a time. The area looks quite wet on a normal day with so many rivers, creeks, and bayous all about. Add to that the fact that the area soil, as was reported, is heavy, clay soil, no doubt laid down over millennia of other storm events. Clay soil absorbs water very reluctantly. Add to that the amount of development and construction in this fourth largest city in the country and the problems multiply.

This tragic event, this Harvey, was like a glass of water thrown in the face of a toddler throwing a tantrum. It focused the nation’s attention on what America is all about: people doing the right things to help each other out when trouble hits. I was surprised to learn that Houston is the most racially diverse city in the country. After all the unrest and divisiveness we’ve witnessed of late, this was a definite wake-up call, a chance to reset where we are going.

Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove have successfully dealt with flooding dangers. The flooding last month, while things got wet and roads were closed, wasn’t as much of a problem as it could have been. Let’s hope Houston and other affected areas make a speedy recovery and wind up less vulnerable in the future than they were this time.