Fortnight of Transition, Day 3: Keeping the Door Ajar


September 11, 2020-

Much, rightfully, has been said today about the attacks of 19 years ago, and how eerily similar things feel-as cities are continuing to feel the effects of discord and an entire region of the country is reeling from fire.

We, in northern Arizona, are seeing climatic effects of the fires to the west, as smoky air has kept temperatures down and those with breathing issues indoors. Stories of people struggling, of those who have lost loved ones and of others who have lost everything, keep multiplying. COVID is practically an afterthought, though it could burst through and cause additional mayhem, as it did during the ship fire in San Diego, earlier this summer.

Now, the Pacific Coast is seeing something unprecedented-an early fire season, with no indication that it can be brought to heel. People in the large cities are even on a fair alert. Those of us to the east must get ready, then, for an influx of refugees-much as we would if the great faults were to buckle, or the Cascades erupt in fury.

It’s not quite that bad, yet, but mental preparedness is best begun, weeks ahead of a potential mass evacuation. In the meantime, let us also direct our positive energy towards an end to the firestorm and form a plan for bringing our western neighbours to a safe haven.

I say this, having seen a minor version of chaos, when people fled the Louisiana coast, during Hurricane Laura, and safe havens became overwhelmed, within a few hours.

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.