Category Archives: Texas

So It Begins

You know it’s probably going to be a swell day when the pre-dawn weather forecast discussion begins with “Severe historic flood event ongoing,” and then you check out back and there’s a small lake where your yard usually resides…

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The Brazos River, farther out back than this picture, has been running slightly high at a depth of 16 feet. By this time tomorrow, so says the National Weather Service, it will rise to more than 49 feet. Volume-wise, the water flow will increase from the current approximate 9,000 cubic feet per second to about 72,000 cubic feet per second, in less than 24 hours’ time.

We have never heard of something like this happening in such a short time. It should be interesting…

Also posted in Be Afraid, Brazos River, Nature

A Trip To Eagle Lakeless

We pass through Eagle Lake, Texas, regularly on trips to and from the Polka Farm. So the other day, my wife and I made this little town of 3,600 or so our destination. The first thing we noticed was that it’s exceedingly difficult to actually catch a glimpse of the 1,400-acre lake for which the town is named.

We followed promising roads around both sides of the lake, and at one point found ourselves on the only road that leads to structures actually built on (or more precisely, on a hill above) the water. Six or eight homeowners appear to enjoy fabulous views and access to the lake. But it turns out the lake itself is privately owned, and leased out to select hunters and fishermen.

We learned this from the mayor, whom we met while making a call at the city chamber of commerce, of which she also is president. I imagine that she is weary of informing the inquisitive of the fact that Eagle Lake citizens live a couple stones’ throws away from the lake but, no, they have no access to it. Yet she showed no weariness at all, and in fact appears tireless in her efforts to promote the city.

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It’s an old town by Texas standards, with two or three dozen historic commercial buildings, most dating from the late 1800s. Building permits were displayed outside perhaps a third of them, which appear destined for restoration.

One of the finest buildings is the former Farris Hotel, apparently an establishment of some repute, which closed down in 2013 after the owner died. I’ve read that the widow sold the building to someone who renamed it Wessex Hall. Whatever the new owner’s intentions, the building sits behind a hurricane fence now, apparently not in use.

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For a small town, Eagle Lake is blessed with architectural gems, including even the city police station:

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Yet the city has made its contribution to rural decay. In our search for the elusive shores of Eagle Lake, we came upon a large brick and beam hovel, behind a state historic marker identifying it as E.H. Henry Rosenwald School. According to the marker, in the days of racial segregation African Americans in Eagle Lake conducted school for their children, but had no formal school building  until a black educator, Eugene Henry, convinced the president of Sears Roebuck Co. to cover half the cost of building one, in 1930.

Here is that historic school today:

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Sad to me that the forces at work renovating the town couldn’t have manifest themselves early enough to save the school. Now crumbles into the Earth and serves mostly as a monument to some imaginative graffiti. When time permits, I’ll gather more of the Eagle Lake images into a separate gallery…

Also posted in Photography, Uncategorized

That Old Stevie Ray Vaughan Line

Oh, it’s floodin’ down in Texas,
All of the telephone lines are down
Oh, it’s floodin’ down in Texas,
All of the telephone lines are down.
I been tryin’ to call my baby,
And I can’t hear a single sound.

Since last I reported on happenings within the Texas rainforest, things got more so, only crunchy. As in 10 inches of rain over about six hours Monday night and Tuesday morning, inside a slow-moving and intense lightening storm complete with down-drafts of wind fierce enough that they pulled an electrical transformer off of its wires on a nearby power pole and flung it to the ground, before ripping out a neighbor’s pecan tree and pushing it across the power lines.

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The fire department blocked off traffic, the school district decided to close and a fair percentage of Houston apparently was under water. We got to try out the new propane-powered electric generator, once it became apparent that 100,000 people from here to Houston were without power, and the electric utility did not consider our little neighborhood a particular priority, notwithstanding power lines lying in the road.

The generator works great. Enough to run the freezer, refrigerator, an upstairs window-unit AC and various laptops and phone chargers, with power enough to spare that we had fresh coffee.

The power came back on at about 1:30 p.m. yesterday, but the crew just performed triage – obtaining electricity for the neighborhood but leaving the tree across sagging lines, and the power pole out front leaning precariously.

Meanwhile, out back, the Brazos River has been absorbing the past few weeks’ statewide downpours to the point where the river is expected to crest above 49 feet on Saturday. That might put it inside my neighbor’s back garden, close enough to the house to elicit sober reflection, I am sure, but not so high as to trigger the packing of suitcases and an evacuation. (Hope I didn’t just jinx us).

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The area above recently was a part of my far back yard. I am sorry for the bluebirds. More pictures (and, unfortunately, mosquitoes) as the flooding progresses.

And remember: “Stop, drop and roll” is not a proper response for every sort of emergency.

Also posted in Brazos River, Nature, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be

Welcome To The Rainforest

Distant thunder gently wakes me, then rocks me back to a deep sleep. Like a snooze alarm with a slapstick punchline five minutes later: Wham! and the house shakes with the force of the lightening bolt, probably the next one hovering right over my head, 800 yards straight up in the sky and coming down fast.

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Welcome to the rainforest.

I’m up with the second crash, heading around the corner to my office computer, dialing in the local weather radar on the Interwebnets, confirming all hell is about to break loose, again, and shutting down the computer and monitor before the little electric men living inside the lightening can crawl up the wires and fry the motherboard.

March, April, May. Three months of incredible rain events, these past two weeks probably the incrediblest, have taken the entire state of Texas and its vast collection of two-thirds-empty river reservoirs and filled them right up, taken our “dry” creek systems and leaking farm ponds, our ground water tables, our Brazos and Colorado rivers, our crackling dry prairies and bare-dirt rice fields and rejuvenated them to overflowing.

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Overflowing with mosquitoes, too. Flash floods and tornado warnings and a river running through the lower back yard like a pack of thieves looking for anything not tied down, and grabbing it up, tossing it into the trailer and driving off downstream to dump it onto the great piles of crap down in Freeport where river meets Gulf.

It happened again this morning. It’s scheduled to happen again tomorrow. Like that old Walt Disney movie where Mickey Mouse is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and gets the broomsticks marching around with sloshing buckets of water, but doesn’t know how to make them stop.

Keep praying, California, all your dreams can come true. But be careful what you wish for.

Also posted in Nature, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be, Writing