I’ve seen first-hand, many times, the shock and trauma that can devastate people in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other weather-related disasters.
So even though I’m a world away from my home state of Texas, I know the trauma that so many Texans–God help them–are suffering right now.
The hardest and most challenging duty I ever had in my journalism career was covering weather disasters, and Lord knows I covered more than my share of catastrophic floods like the ones we’ve seen in Texas and other states lately.
I covered killer floods not only in flood-prone regions of Texas, but also the Big Daddy of all American floods that was the Mississippi River disaster of 1993. The elaborate systems of water-control failed in the Mississippi River basin, leading to the greatest flood ever recorded on the Upper Mississippi.
In St. Louis alone, the Mississippi remained above flood stage for 144 days between April 1 and Sept. 30, 1993. A Houston Chronicle photographer and I traveled up and down multiple states gathering pictures and stories, sometimes going out on boats with guides who took us over whole towns that were deep underwater beneath us.
I also covered a massive flood in Texas, in the early nineties as well, that killed more than 20 people. This was a flood that occurred literally in my own back yard, as I was living in a lake house at the time on Lake Conroe, a popular recreational reservoir north of Houston.
My first challenge in covering the flood was getting out of my own neighborhood. Thankfully, my house was far enough away from shore that the waters stopped just short of my front door, sparing me a flooded house. Many of my neighbors who lived right on the shores were not so fortunate.
Covering floods entails all the nasty stuff that rescue and relief workers face–snakes everywhere and fire ants on drift wood and stifling heat and humidity after the rains stopped, and sickening stench from dead animals and dead waters unable to drain. The difference is that rescue and relief workers do such heroic work, putting their lives way more on the line than reporters, of course.
But reporters as well as relief workers see the shock and trauma in the faces of people who narrowly escape deaths, or who have seen loved ones drown, and all the rest.
We tend to associate post-traumatic stress with war, but it actually goes with every kind of disaster.
And a lot of people in Texas, Oklahoma and other places are going to be coping with PTS for a long time, long after the news media have moved on to the next disaster.
In my morning and evening prayers I routinely send up prayers for people all over the world suffering from disastrous events beyond their control, events that make the news such as wars and genocides, famines and diseases and of course, violent weather.
But rain and flooding of “biblical proportions,” as they say, has hit close to home in my beloved home state of Texas.
Watching the violent weather that has swept such a huge portion of a state that is bigger than so many nations caused me ever-rising anxiety and worry and regions one-by-one got smacked harder than the previous area. (The news this morning, however, is still not good as evacuations are continuing and will be in places.)
I thank God my family and scores of friends back home came out OK in it all, as far as I can tell.
But I’m keeping the others in prayer and, including the many people who were already poor or struggling to survive financially, and sending a few bucks for disaster relief to UMCOR, and hope you’ll donate to it or the Red Cross or some credible source.