The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 91: Clarion Call


August 30, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

Loud, unsettled people are entering the shelter.

The task is to remain calm, and centered,

with little personal time.

I am holding my own right now,

and finding a good spot for each

unique group

who settle in, at “my” shelter.

Things will be okay here,

in the long run.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 90: Diurnal, Nocturnal


August 29, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

The good of the whole


calls for the topsy turvy

to take hold.

So, a day of rest was prescribed

for yours truly,

both before and after

an overnight shift.

I sense the calm before the storm.

The day let me wash and dry clothes,

see a bit of the Red River’s banks,

and enjoy Mexican food, Louisiana-style.

It’s actually a pretty good fit, “LaMex”.

The night, as it happened,

was peaceful and went very, very slowly.

I was thus also prescribed whatever

sleep I needed.

The calm before the storm, indeed.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 89: Deferred


August 28, 2020, Alexandria, LA

The Internet was down today, and will be, until the 31st. So, I have decided that deferral of this blog series will just be a fact of life. In the meantime, I jotted down some notes and can say that there is actually no place I’d rather be, right now, than among the displaced and downtrodden of western and central Louisiana.

We are put among people who need us, in this life, and maybe we need them, just as much. There had to have been a good reason why I dreamt of being deployed to Alexandria. Some, from other parts of the country, put down the South, and the Deep South in particular. I dissent from that view. So far, in fact, Blacks, Whites and Hispanics have been together, under the roof of Rapides Parish Coliseum-for the past five days, in COVID-protocol close quarters, getting along well, because their circumstances are the same and becuase our team treats them all the same.

So, in gratefully accepting the Red Cross Challenge Coin,the organization’s certificate of merit, this evening, I noted that I am accepting it on behalf of everyone who is on staff.

A week remains, as do further challenges that come with a community in recovery. It’s nice to hear, though, that I am always welcome in Alexandria.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 88: It’s Like Arm Wrestling


August 27, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

We heard the freight train coming through, around 2:30 A.M. There were lulls and uproars, from then on, continuously until 12 Noon. The subsiding of the winds was followed by occasional showers, for much of the afternoon. The power went out, and with it the Internet, thus the lateness of this and the preceding post.

We also found that water was shut down, as the city’s pumping station had lost its power, as well. I am expecting that the potability of the water will be non-existent, for several days after the flow is restored. Thankfully, we at the Coliseum shelter have an abundance of bottled water.

Facing the hurricane, along with keeping COVID-19 in mind, is a lot like arm wrestling, against a tag team. Both arms need to be in motion- and that’s a strange feeling. Our efforts continue and the team is, if anything, tighter as we go forward. Clients are also a strength, keeping one another in a heart embrace, and showing appreciation for our efforts as well.

It’s hot here, when the power and AC are off, as they were for most of today. As we were about ready to turn in for the night, the two comforts came back on. I am confident that we can get any other issues resolved, as they come up.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 87: Facing the Mother Bear


August 26, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

Hurricane Laura’s forewinds began to pound the coast of Louisiana, around 10 a.m. The long process of rain showers, followed by clear skies, then increasing winds, and more rain, pretty much summed up the pattern of the day’s events.

Amazingly, Laura did not throw a storm surge at the vulnerable coast, which is already waterlogged, given its low elevation. We, here, in the middle of the state, have vulnerability to flooding as well, owing to the many rivers that are tributaries of the Mississippi, as well as the Red River.

I devoted the better part of twelve hours today, to getting clients settled and helping with logistical matters, like trash and feeding. This comes with recognition, which has taken me many years to learn to accept. It sure does beat criticism, though.

By bedtime, we had a plan in place to beat back Mother Bear Laura. The beast would give us her best shot.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 86: The Move, The Rest and The Second Move


August 25, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

Our day began in Beaumont, with slight overcast but gathering clouds off to the south. Tropical Depression Marco had dissipated, with little effect on the coast. Hurricane Laura, on the other hand, was shaping up to be either a Category 3 or 4 storm.

So, the preparations began for our Red Cross team, called a “Strike Team”, so named for our specific mission. Ours is to be ready for the surge of people who are likely to come to this small city, in the center of Louisiana, in advance of Laura’s anticipated surge of 10-15 feet, just south of Lake Charles.

I had a dream, last Tuesday evening, that I would deploy to this city, which I know only from a news item about three girls transferring to a private school, some thirty-five years ago. The women have likely moved on, but Alexandria has grown a bit and has taken a place as a regional hub for the mid-state.

Getting back to our day’s itinerary, the call came to pack up and move out, so we were on the road by 10 a.m. Bye, bye, Beaumont. and two hours later, Bon Soir, Baton Rouge. We got settled in our rooms, I went over to a take-out only International House of Panckaes, got a burger, onion rings and a large lemonade, walked back in a brief shower, enjoyed lunch and laid down for a brief nap. Then, five minutes later- Up and out!

That was my shortest motel stay, ever-having never engaged in illicit affairs. We were once again on the road, this time to Alexandria. My dream having transpired, we engaged in setting up sleeping cots, bringing in basic supplies and getting a decent night’s rest. We are. presently, prepared to stay here, at Rapides Parish Coliseum, for 3-5 days. That, as we learned yesterday, is subject to change-at the command of the storm.

It is likely that Laura will hammer the west central to middle Gulf Coast and several hundred miles inland, then become a tropical depression, stretching from Arkansas to Cape Cod, via the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic Coast, before returning to tropical storm status and heading for Nova Scotia.

It”s going to be a long week for many-and we still have room in our hearts for those suffering from fires in California and in Globe, Arizona.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 85: Curbing the Projector


August 24, 2020, Beaumont-

As several of the planets of our solar system are in retrograde, in relation to Earth it is said that we each go back over old ground. In my case, I have found, in meditation, that I want to pull back from groups of people- and the more insular I perceive the group to be, the less I want to do with them, of late.

Group leaders seem to pick up on that, and I end up excluded more from discussions and more specific conversations. I know, deep down, what my own task is, in reflecting a more positive self-image in their presence. It is a matter of shutting off the aspects of my own being that end up being projected onto those whom I perceive as more “prominent”, “eminent”, “powerful”.

This old ground will be raked over, a few more times, until I can at long last manage to cease viewing myself, internally, as less worthy of being part of a given group-especially as I have been included, at least to some level. That this goes back to high school, which, in reality, was essentially a happy time for me- with only my self-concept occasionally getting in the way, is a sign that it is long past time to realize, and accept, how far I’ve come.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 84: The Sodden Ground Trembles


August 23, 2020, Beaumont-

A tall, gracious young woman greeted us at the door to Cracker Barrel, which was the group’s dinner choice, this evening. Jarae then found herself to be our server. A delightful person brought delightful comfort food, and we continued to prepare, physically and mentally, for what could be a double whammy-or a bust.

What concerns me most about the Bayou Country-from Aransas Pass and Matagorda to the south, Spring and Katy to the west, Livingston and Lufkin to the north, and everything east, as far as Dothan, is that the ground is sodden, saturated. The bayoux, the creeks and the rivers can take some more water, but the ground around them is spongy and won’t absorb much more. Two storms in a row may or may not overwhelm the area, but they will deposit a goodly amount of water, and there will be twelve more weeks of Hurricane Season remaining, I see the potential for shades of 2005-and if you remember, we ran out of people names for storms that year, It even sent a hurricane into the South Atlantic-in January, 2006.

So, on that cheery note, I can only say, we are the A-Team, from Arizona, and LA/TX is in good hands.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 83: Readying for Converging Storms


August 22, 2020, Beaumont-

I was up at 1 a.m. and at the Shuttle Bus stop by 2:15. We got to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at 4:30. Thereafter, I moved on autopilot through the check-in stand, on through security and found my way to the departure lounge-where I drifted in and out of sleep, whilst waiting for the 9 a.m. flight. Such is the process of catching a morning flight, by going from Prescott to Phoenix in an economical manner.

I slept for virtually the entire flight, waking long enough to help my seatmate find her seat belt buckle, lodged between our two seats. The flight itself was not unpleasant. Yes, we had to wear our masks the entire flight-as well as on the shuttle, in the terminal and in the departure lounge. In fact, I had the mask on all day, except for meals and whilst in the rental car.

After a fashion, the team ironed out bugs, regarding this evening’s lodging, when we will meet, via Microsoft Teams, tomorrow and who is going where, in the immediate few days ahead. I am on a team that will deploy to western Louisiana, if needed. Right now, I am resting in a motel room in this eastern Texas city, about an hour past Houston.

The whole reason for our being here is to face storms that will arrive in the area either Tuesday or Wednesday, as well as the flooding that may occur in their wake. I will keep you posted, as best I can.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 82: Call of Duty


August 21, 2020-

I had a sense that this down time was getting too humdrum for the Universe’s liking. After a few minutes spent wrangling about the best way to counter sex trafficking, there came a phone call.

Two tropical storms are approaching the Gulf Coast states. Each is expected to hit that region on Tuesday, after wreaking havoc in diffferent parts of the Caribbean. The call was for me to go to Texas-specifically to Beaumont.

I’ve been in that area a few times, though not as a Disaster Response volunteer. I do know just how much water can fall in the bayou country-from Houston, south to Padre Island and east to Biloxi and Gulfport. Without going into detail, we volunteers need to be absolutely on game, ready to give any and all disaster victims our very best.

Someone pointed out, with regard to rescuing trafficking victims, that there is no room for hodgepodge or for guessing games. The level of professionalism needs to be at the very highest. The same is true, in a different theater of operations, with disaster relief.

I will keep in touch, from Beaumont and wherever else I may deploy, over the next several days.