Tropical Storm Lee Tuesday Sept. 6 update

It’s unbelievably cool early this morning.  It seems like Mother Nature has rewarded us with a blessing of dry, chilly fall weather.  It’s pretty amazing.

The feeling of guilt overwhelms me though as I think about the folks in Texas who are still dry as bones and burning up like crisp, dry paper.  I am so sorry for them.

Yesterday led me out to check on some of my friends—both residents and camp owners.  Some of them were mucking out water hyacinth and mud from under their camps; but most of them were relieved that it was not any worse than it was.

Termite’s friends who evacuated Saturday evening at the final hour came home yesterday to find the water just up underneath their floor.  Just a couple more inches, and they would not have been sleeping in their little old cypress house last night.  They, too, do not have flood insurance.  I was ready to help them clean up since we have been fortunate enough to be up off the ground now and relieved that they were spared.

Bare cupboards and an empty frig necessitated a trip to town for some grub yesterday, and I was shocked at what I saw as I crossed the overpass (over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway):  There was water standing on the road below the overpass and the golf course was completely flooded–on Monday afternoon.

This is not a good sign, my friends.  As a wetland educator, I talk about wetland loss, causes, and solutions often.  I talk about how the marshes have protected the coastal communities for many years.  I relate how the 2005  and 2008 double hurricanes caused about 20 years of combined wetland loss–a loss we could not afford.

And this weekend, for the first time since the flood of 2008, I saw the results, and I took pause.  Actually, I’m not finished taking pause.

As I clean up pecan branches and other storm debris from around Camp Dularge today, my thoughts will be saturated with the ramifications of how much water a little tropical storm named Lee pushed in here; how rapidly it happened, and how easily it came.

You all know that I love it here, and I have already asked myself the hard questions:  If I leave, will all I have done be for naught?  Can I still be a wetland advocate from further inland, or will I just be a sellout?  Can I thrive away from the place I love, where my boat is always just minutes away from the swamp and the marsh?

My book,  Before the Saltwater Came, poses a recurring question throughout the story, “What will you do?”  Little did I know when I wrote and published that story back in 2004, that the book would usher in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, along with historical flooding.

In the book, the otter takes her family and moves “up the bayou” to find the freshwater of her otter childhood.  I don’t require freshwater, but the day is coming when I won’t be as strong and resilient as days gone by.  I can’t help but wonder if the otter’s actions were a foreshadowing of my life some seven or eight years later?

The book ends with the otter asking the reader,

“What will you do?”

Tropical Storm Lee did not cause damage to my property–it stirred my consciousness.  I can’t ignore what I witnessed.

I can’t ignore the question in my mind . . .

What will I do?

Thoughtfully,

BW

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Tropical Storm Lee Tuesday Sept. 6 update — 30 Comments

  1. Wow! Is that a pic of the golf course? I, too, am amazed at the damage caused by a little tropical storm.

    Many people are facing the same questions you are. Especially the folks who have flooded for the third time in six years, who have no flood insurance, and aren’t adept at jumping through all the hoops required to get their homes elevated.

    FYI, although not to the same extent as Texas, Louisiana is fighting wildfires, too, from Oil City to Ida and along Caddo Lake. The winds have been unbelievably high, making them harder to control. 7,000 acres have burned so far in places you’re familiar with in Texas – in and around Marshall, Karnack, etc. It’s hitting pretty close to home.

  2. Morning, BW ~ Well, no rain, but we do have smoke. At least the wind has laid, and it may be a help to those fighting the fires around Houston. That Bastrop fire will be something else. I fear it’s taken on a life of its own and is going to be a terrible disaster before it’s all over.

    As for your questions… There’s no doubt in my mind you can advocate from anywhere. Just because you change a location doesn’t mean you’ll change who you are, your history or the swamp-water flowing through your veins. 😉

    Thriving’s a different matter. You know as well as I do why so many people rebuild right where they were before the hurricane/flood/fire/etc. It’s home. Other people think they’re nuts, but place makes a difference. Some people can thrive in New York City, for heaven’s sake – but it’s not right for everyone. Likewise everywhere in the world.

    I do know this – when the day comes that I’m not varnishing boats any longer, at all, I’ll make a move. Having evac’d Mom from hurricanes twice, I’ve got a good idea what the combination of elderly-plus-storm equals, and I’ve no desire to live it. But like you, I don’t have a clue right now what I’ll do.

    Except shut this danged thing off and go to work!

  3. The tropical storms are usually sleepers! I’m glad that you were all okay down the bayou. I know you have a big decision ahead of you! May you have much wisdom and guidance with it.

    We got the same cold front here yesterday. It appears to be gone here this morning but we’re supposed to get another in a few days. I hope you get that one also.

  4. OK–I have been having the same thoughts since I saw all the water on Hwy. 56. I think this is the worst it has been. That bug has been in my
    head to move like the otters to freshwater (that is my home in Mississippi). It may come sooner than I think. Great story about the water. Love the cold front.

  5. My home is in a once-wooded area in Slidell. The lot is 100 x 440.

    When we prepared the lot for our (double-wide) mobile home we sited it in a location requiring the fewest trees to be cut down. The same went for when we put in a swimming pool.

    After Katrina a developer bought the next 8 lots and virtually clear-cut the front halves.

    Gee–I wonder why the road gets so much more water on it during rains.

    • The water in Houma came from rain, especially in the areas where forced drainage does not work, so it just sits. Does that make sense? Houma is not very far above sea level. It really isn’t. So, maybe we’ll move to Houma, and in five years, we’ll all consider a move a little further north before everyone does a mass exodus from Houma. What say ye?

  6. Just a note to let you know that I am a Bayou Woman fan, just not diehard. Glad you and yours are ok. And I still owe you a funny story and I’ll probably send it email to keep the names of the innocent out of the press.

  7. Glad everything turned out well for your family. How long do you think it will take for all the water to recede? The golf course looks like a lake. I know how close it is to the Intercoastal waterway. Is that standing water from the Intercoastal Waterway coming out of its banks? We didn’t get hit nearly as bad as the weathermen predicted. We had a total of 6 1/2″ of much needed rain. Do you know how much rainfall y’all got?

    I hope you saved those pecan limbs for smoking meats. Have you ever smoked some fish? Good stuff! I keep a bunch on hand at all times. Hubby gets a bit ticked off (maybe he’s embarrassed) when I ask people if it’s ok to take some downed limbs. I cut them up, store them in MY workshop, and smoke the meats. I would think he’d be happy. I’m saving money (by not buying wood) and all he has to do is eat whatever I prepare.

    • The water has not all receded. In low-lying areas, it must now either be absorbed or evaporated. About the golf course, YES! That water is from the Intracoastal overflowing its banks, and Houma better sit up and take notice. They are not exempt from flooding now. I do not know how much rainfall we got, but Shoreacres knows how to find out these things! (Linda?) I did not dispose of the pecan branches; however, I don’t have a smoker. Can I just add them to the grill somehow? I guess I could save them for you?

  8. BW, I don’t envy you the decisions you will be facing. There is an area west of us along the Trinity that flooded out a few years back. The levee was breached in several spots and pastures, roads and some homes were flooded. The levee was fixed and the next year or so, we had another heavy rain and, it broke again. It has been repaired several times and I have noticed that it breaks thru every time we get heavy rain.
    I believe that once an area floods, it will do so over and over again no matter what we do.
    Don’t let guilt over our fires eat at you. Those responsible for that spark that started them should feel guilty but, I would about bet they don’t even know they started a fire. Probably a cigarette tossed out of a window, a bbq grill unattended, the broken bottle they tossed out a window magnifying the suns rays, etc. We are getting the effects of the smoke and ashes and it is bad on our allergies but, we have our home still while others have nothing but each other so, I am not going to complain!
    You can be an advocate for the bayou no matter where you dwell. You have the knowledge of what needs to be done, who to contact and how to do it.
    Steffi, if you were near me, you would have all the pecan wood you could ever use. Along with some maple, oak and mesquite. Limbs have been dropping like flies down here. We just don’t dare light the bbq grill yet!

      • Okay, come pick up my limbs and you may have them! Coming down today? I did not get them picked up yesterday. The downstairs room at camp had rain blow in and I had lots of wet stuff to sort through and throw out. Box fan blowing in there as I type.

    • Cammy, as usual, your words are poignant and heartfelt. I am just reading and absorbing . . . . thank you . . . . stay safe . . . . and we are praying for rain for y’all continually!! BW

  9. glad You are ok there. Sounds like some hard questions to ask yourself!

    Smokers are cheap-25-35 $ and well worth the$$. I love mine! I smoke my home-made sausage and fish and pork hocks for beans( the store bought ones have more salt than I like so for the sausage and the ham I can put in what I want) Smoked red fish steaks(from the bulls) is fine and the leftover bits make a great smoked fish dip.I love a smoked turkey and do smoked chicken for parties and there is never any left.

  10. ps A smoker is the ultimate slow cooker-Put your meat on in the am and have smoked chicken when you get home in the eve and put your holiday turkey on the nite before and its done by holiday dinner- no muss no fuss no oven

      • They come in electric, gas and wood/charcoal. And as it begins to cool off, they also go on sale!! Husband bought me a CharGrill and it has a spot to attach a fire box to use as a smoker. I just scrape all the coals and wood to one end and put the meat on the other. If I add more weight to it, I’ll never be able to move it!!

        My son has a propane smoker and it does a fantastic job! No sparks either. Some of the areas around here are banning charcoal/wood grills and smokers until we start getting rain so he will be able to still cook outside.

        By the way, had some really delicious tartar sauce tonight on my fish. I love the taste and hubby said it was really good too. Thank you!!

        • Yea! Ayeeee! About the tartar sauce!!! Lil Sis and I are finding other uses for it, like a sandwich spread, or even maybe a relish spread, or salad dressing. We’re experimenting. It’s still not in stores yet, though, Cammy! So thank you for the review! Oh and thanks for the information on smokers. I was too lazy to do a google search myself. Isn’t that sad?

      • BW, charcoal smokers are the least expensive ($30, but the most work), electric, propane or natural gas and then there are the pellet types which cost hundreds. I have a charcoal and an electric (which I use most often). Hubby bought me a super dupper smoker that automatically fed the wood (looked like hockey pucks) a few years ago. I had him bring it back to Cabella’s. It didn’t hold any more than the “el cheapos” and the hockey pucks were expensive. Downed limbs cost nothing! Most of the time I use the electric ($65).
        Note to Dotter…Makes a good gift …AND you could very easily benefit from a gift like this. Mommer might invite you over for some smoked meat. BW, they also double as a grill for burgers, steaks, Redfish on the half shell etc.

  11. I don’t envy you the decision on whether to leave or stay. I know how deep the love of the bayou is for you and your family. The only thing to compare it to here is that question that is always asked after a devistating tornado, will you stay? There will always be joy, heartache, trials, memories, good times, water, wind, drought, etc. everywhere. I guess it’s just where you want to endure those things that makes them worth it, my thoughts are with you while you make that decision. You have my number and I’m always here if you need me.

    • Thank you, Tara. I guess I was just baring my soul at that moment. Those things have been on my mind, having seen how quickly and how high the water rose this time–and it wasn’t even a hurricane. For me, it’s more about the economical end of things. Just having a home here is one thing . . . but a business property is different. Those are the losses I would like to “cut” and not endure, ya know? Your words are wise ones and put things in perspective. No place is perfect. Except maybe Hawaii : )

  12. OK-doke. Here are the readings from DocNDSwamp’s official gauge up in Houma:

    Thu: .28″
    Fri: 5.01″
    Sat: 4.29″
    Sun thru 4:30 PM: 1.07″
    Total thru Sun 4:30 PM: 10.65″…

    Good grief.

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