August 27, 2020
I have been in, and thankfully so far, lived through a variety of different natural disasters. I was staying at the family farm in the early 1960’s when a tornado came through and took out every building except the house where we huddled in the basement. I was in Salt Lake City in 1983 when nearly four inches of rain fell over a three day span, forcing the city to sandbag Seventh South Street to create a river to move the water from an overflowing stream to the Great Salt Lake. I missed the ’89 quake that dropped the freeways in the Bay Area, but was still dealing with the rebuild of both the quake and the Berkeley Hills Fire when I arrived two years later. Back in Kansas, my first year as director of a conference center saw a 500 year flood that isolated Melissa and I on the island that was our house. Last year I was in Fort Smith when the river crested at a record high of 42.5 feet. That does not include the number of smaller earthquakes, tornadoes and floods I have experienced. Melissa suggested I stop moving.
Now living in Arkansas I am experiencing the side effects of the hurricanes that come into the Gulf and peter out somewhere around us. We do not get the high winds and storm surge experienced on the coast, but we do get plenty or rain. The biggest difficulty is flash flooding in low areas and people who think they can drive through the water. We lost five people to the 2019 flood mentioned above. One was a delivery driver when her truck was washed off the road and into a ditch. Horrifically, she was on a 911 call while she drowned.
The Gulf just missed having a rare double hurricane event this week. Marco made landfall Wednesday as a tropical storm that brought us rain all day long. We already have flood warnings issued for most of the state. Laura hit land as a near category five hurricane on Thursday. The 150 mph winds are expected to produce a 15’-20’ storm surge as much as 30 miles inland. Some described this surge as “unsurvivable.” Sadly, many decided to ride the storm out. While the surge was not as bad as expected, wind damage appeared far worse as metal buildings were torn to shreds. Already over half a million are without power as the storm continues into upper Louisiana and southern Arkansas as a category two hurricane.
THOUGHTS: Even though it was still a steady rain, last night the sky opened for the beautiful sunset pictured. It amazes me how even as we torture our environment by dumping heat and pollution into the air and water, it is has yet to abandon us. Scientists tell us that Mars had enough abuse, and let its atmosphere go. It seems we are trying to do the same with the Earth. The shutdown caused by the pandemic proved if we just stop polluting our world, it is still able to heal itself. We are getting close to the point where that will no longer be possible. Then we will cause a collapse, mass extinctions, and the next dominant species will step up. Remember, that is how we got here. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.