Thursday, November 25, 2004

Still okay, despite intermittent storms.

We haven't had more flooding, which is a-okay in my books. We had some high wind last night, which screwed a lot of people's roofs and trees, but not ours. My county ended up having 22 inches of rain this past Sunday, which would have been disruptive for me if my parents didn't always have enough food and bottled water on hand to sustain them for several days, if not a week or two.

Almost everyone at the little farm is okay, though they did have the only tree they've had to plant in the last five years twisted out by the winds last night,and they had one baby goat die and one goat break his leg during the "goat evacuation" Sunday afternoon. The broken-legged goat looks to do okay, though he might loose the bottom half of the broken (back) leg, and the baby goat died after being brought to shelter inside the house shortly after the rains began. If I haven't mentioned it before, the farm is open to donations, and if you e-mail me about it, I'll turn you over to the proprietors' computer-savvy son. He'll help them accept any donation (no matter how small or large--$5 buys enough produce or feed to satisfy any of their animals for a day or more) to subsidize their farm of mini and pygmy animals for petting-zoo and hospice uses. They lost their llamas to the heat (as I think I mentioned in the summer) and aren't planning to adopt more for that reason, but have pygmy goats, miniature donkeys, pygmy cattle (you haven't lived till you've stood next to a brama bull that stands shorter than your shoulder at his head) and several head of abandoned pot-bellied pigs they've adopted, all of which they use for petting zoos for schools and therapy for hospice (the farm mommy is a hospice nurse) and nursing homes. They've also got two (soon to be three!) head of Gigantos (I think is how you spell it?) Donkeys, which look just like regular or miniature donkeys (down to the cross-mark on their back) but whose adult withers stand above my head at 5'2". I love it. Everything at this farm is either smaller or larger than you expect (except their Fallow Deer, which are exactly the right size except one of them is snow white), and it is the perfect therapy for a hard day. You just need to pet a donkey, and you don't even know it. They stood in two-foot high water for three days, and their only reaction when it went down was to rejoice in dry ground!

The next saddest thing after having all your personal possessions ruined by rainwater is being dry but knowing which of your fellow townspeople are home from evacuation shelters by seeing who has a fresh pile of sodden carpet and furniture in front of their house, and guessing how high the water went in their homes by looking at the watermarks on the bookcases. Lots of businesses and homes had water inside, and some people didn't get back to their property until today, when the sun came out and it stopped raining upstream long enough for our creeks and rivers to drain downcountry and uncover the roads. About 3,000 people lost power for 1 to 8 hours, and there was plenty of intermittent power loss from Sunday to Tuesday. My dad's a Cable Technician who worked 13 hours on Sunday, first fixing cable, then after the local answering service lost power, answering emergency calls for electric or phone customers or people who needed evacuation.

Lots of cars got ruined in the engine or interior or both, and Highway 59 was closed for quite a while because people's vehicles (even big trucks) were stalling out whilst driving on it, and having to be towed to safety. In fact, a lot of buildings that got water inside them wouldn't have, except for vehicles driving past too fast on their streets and causing wakes that forced the water over their foundations and thresholds, most of which was caused by townspeople driving past as looky-loos or rescue personnel. That sucks, in case you didn't know. The only thing worse than having to have your stalled car towed to safety is having the tow truck swamp a small business driving too fast on the way to you.

The lucky part is that, being a small rural community near the coast, there were plenty of huge tractors and boats of all descriptions to rescue everyone who needed rescuing, so there were really no casualties. There were lots of Weather Channel videos of the rescues playing on yesterday, but my link from the previous post doesn't go to them now, and I don't know enough about internet stuff to link them independently, but rest assured that huge cultivators whose tires have hubs higher than a man's head were used to rescue flood victims and we had plenty of motor- and air-boats, too. And in case I didn't mention it, our entirely Volunteer Fire Department rocks, and saved everyone who needed it.

Because our town is quartered by 59 and 71, and because everyone who got kicked off 59 had to go up 71 to get back on track, and because I live right on 71 (71 Business or "Mechanic Street" in town), I got to watch most of the boats go back and forth down our street from the point where they pick up the refugees and drop them off for distribution to shelters to the point where they put the boats back in, so I got to see a damn-huge lot of boats. I saw at least 3 Texas Wildlife boats (or three of the same one) and a hell of a lot (or several hells of the same lot) of local Volunteer Fire Station boats from all over the county, and plenty of local volunteer boats. And I wasn't on the porch the whole time, as I was also busy filling our tubs with water for flushing toilets and washing, and locating our kerosene lanterns, so I surely missed many boats. Plus I happened to be on the porch when the National Guard arrived. It wasn't as exciting as you might suppose, given that a number of people I personally knew were homeless and waiting to be evacuated.

And the town already had planned a Community Thanksgiving to accommodate several thousand, since the one last year went off so well. We're going. Last year (no disaster) they had something like 3,000 people in our community of 11,000, and this year they were planning for quite a bit more, which is likely good. Several religious and benevolent organizations are also feeding for free anyone who feels thankful tomorrow, and accepting any donations toward their likely larger audience, which is also very likely going to be useful. We've donated to several just driving around town on errands that got put off till today.

Several even smaller towns near here were totally incapacitated by the flood, with almost total city populations being evacuated and no people being re-admitted to their houses until today. I hate that this had to happen the weekend before Thanksgiving. I really do feel for my local fellow-residents and hope they all come to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. I hope you're all sending kind thoughts to this general area, as the whole thing pretty much got slammed.

In my own news, I didn't get to work for two days starting Sunday, but I was only scheduled for the one, and I got to make it up yesterday on a scheduled day off, which puts me at a personal even keel. I was really incredibly lucky both in my home staying dry and in losing no real days of work. And since I started drinking mass amounts of beer every time it started raining, I was happy to have a couple days off unexpectedly. I was planning for total evacuation, and hoping to pass off my inebriation as anxiety. It completly backfired Monday evening, in case you were wondering. It started raining at 7pm, stopped at around 10pm and left me totally hungover but committed to a demo at noon on Tuesday. It went great. I do my best customer-interface whilst hanging on to my "Basic Decent Composure" with both hands and one foot.

And, despite my aversion to organized religion, I have got to give props to our local churches who turned out to house the 250+ members of the community who found themselves temporarily(?) de-homed. They rocked (as I've mentioned before). I got a chance to thank some of them, and some of the Red Cross workers, at my job today. The Red Cross workers were at the grocery store to pick up general supplies (mostly donated by the grocery company and local organizations and charities) and required pharmaceuticals for our refugees. Amongst the religious, I only got to thank the local Mennonites, because the Methodists and etc. don't wear a uniform. I think next time I do a demo (this weekend) I'll just thank everyone for pitching in, since I'm as likely to hit an aid-worker as I am a victim, and I think everyone should to be thanked for their composure.

In other news, our area is trying to get declared a disaster area, since you can't get flood insurance very easily when you live below sea-level in a flood plain near the coast (or when everything in your house is demolished by huge, unexpected rainstorms totally unprecedented in your area), but FIMA is saying the total loss isn't a high enough dollar amount. So I'm urging all my neighbors to photo and inventory their huge piles of discarded flood-damaged property and submit them to the total. I know if this community pulls together, we can have ourselves declared a Total Disaster Area and get the government to help us recoup. For possibly the last time ever, if this administration gets its way. This is the worst flood this area has sustained in living memory, and it might be a lot longer than that under the Bushies...ya know?

Anyway, Happy Turkey day, think of something you're thankful for. I'm thankful for not getting flooded out of my house or car, for having a loving family and friends that care about me, for having a job, and for moving back to Austin soon...Even though I know at least one of my friends in Austin had 1-3 inches of water in her home day before yesterday. The only upside is that Arizona and New Mexico got a lot of rain, too, and they actually needed it...