As I write this, the state of Texas is blazing. Sixty-four wildfires started in the past two days as lack of rain, strong winds and low humidity combine to create the perfect firestorm. The biggest conflagration is in central Texas – 500 homes destroyed and 30,000 acres burned in Bastrop. Less than 15 miles as the crow flies from our house northwest of Houston is an inferno that’s consumed 5,000 acres. This latest round comes after a series of fires in North Texas during the spring; the biggest one consumed 200,000 acres and destroyed 250 homes, including our good friends’ lake house.
Wind and rain are an annual threat to those living on the Gulf Coast. Each June, proactive citizens prepare for the worst: buying supplies, developing contingency plans and determining evacuation routes. Tropical Storm Alison flooded downtown in 2001. Hurricane Rita missed in 2005. Ike delivered a direct hit three years ago next week. Until the season ends in November, there is always the possibility of destruction.
Last week’s forecast that Tropical Storm Lee was heading this way brought anticipation of an end to the worst drought since the 1950’s. Instead, Lee took a right turn, all the rain went elsewhere and the backside winds flamed the raging fires. Much like the Dust Bowl that ravaged the Great Plains in the midst of the Great Depression, these roaring flames – along with Hurricane Irene that ravaged the East Coast – are piling on to the nation’s woes at the worst of times.
Life is busy. You get moving fast. Caught up in a lot of little things. Then one day you wake up and are told to evacuate your home… to leave behind all your memories. It’s a helpless feeling, and for some, all their keepsakes will be forever lost. Please take a moment right now in your thoughts to remember those affected by these natural disasters. Say a prayer, too, for the first responders and all those who lend a helping hand. As the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 arrives on Sunday, you know it’s times like these when America’s great light of care shines brightest.