Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tropical Storm Rita

I've been sitting here watching coverage of Tropical Storm Rita. A very dear friend of mine in Houston is getting ready to evacuate, just in case Rita becomes a strong hurricane and threatens the coast near her. I pray that she remains safe and dry. We're no strangers to catastrophic floods here in my little town. Last July we had 13" of rain in one day. We watched in amazement as the rain fell from the sky for hour after hour, and watched nervously as the water level in the street in front of my house rose several feet. My neighbor had his kids out in an inflatable boat in the middle of the street! Fortunately the water never came up to our house. Some others weren't so lucky. Late in the evening, a dam upstream gave way. This led to a chain reaction of dam failures, about 20 in all. As the water built at each dam and pushed its way through, it became a torrent that took everything in its path. The devastation was unbelievable. There were docks, lawn furniture, canoes and paddle boats thrown all over the place. There was a layer of mud and sand everywhere. The picture above shows the force of the water...this canoe is wrapped around the tree about 6 to 8 feet above the ground. It remains there as a memorial to the flood. The second picture shows one of the breached dams...it was totally destroyed.

The response of the town was amazing. We were all out there, pulling canoes from the trees, picking up debris and loading into dumpsters, helping to clean the homes that were damaged. I'd never seen such an outpouring of generosity in my life. The Red Cross, Salvation Army and local business were there, providing us with food, water and everything we needed to clean up. We're still recovering. The dams haven't been rebuilt yet, although the plans are in the works and they hope to have our main lake restored by next August. (This is the lake we're buying a house on.) There has been a huge thrust in our town to help the Katrina victims, because we know firsthand how devastating flooding can be. There was a car wash that raised over $4,000 for the Red Cross and this weekend is a yard sale run by the Boy Scouts for the Salvation Army. We're all grateful for their help and want to give something back. And I pray that no one has to face this type of devastation again when Rita comes through.

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