Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

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Light Magic and the Evil Muse

Moving from one writing project to another isn’t always a smooth process. That is especially true when, like me, you have an evil muse. Myrtle, my own particular evil muse, loves to torment me by giving me the basic plot of a book but multiple ways to start it. I swear she does it because she knows it will drive me crazy. But I guess that’s better than having no idea how to start a book. Of course, I wouldn’t argue if, for once, I didn’t start and stop several times before getting to the opening that works best. Still, the stops and starts on Light Magic will have been worth it if the opening is as successful and i think it will be.

Which is what I have finally done.

I think.

I hope.

Okay, that’s enough insecurity from this writer. Light Magic is under way. With the change in opening, there will be a slight change in the plot, but nothing major. The biggest issue I have where this book is concerned is finding time to write. Fortunately, this one has the feel of one of those that won’t fight me every step of the way. If that is the case, my beta readers will be getting it within the month. Snippets should start in two weeks or so. I’ll keep you informed.

One way Light Magic has changed is that it will be bridging the “normal” plot and characters of Slay Bells Ring with the “Others” of Witchfire Burning. Some of that started with Witchfire but this will cement it even more. Of course, this being Mossy Creek, nothing is ever as easy and “normal” as one thinks. That is something Meg Sheridan will learn quickly. It will take her a bit longer to understand why her mother told her to run to Mossy Creek if anything ever happened to her.

Now it’s time to do the mundane things of life — take out the trash, check email and figure out what I have to do today that can’t be postponed for a day or two. Once all that’s done, I can sit down to write. In the meantime, I have a guest post up on According to Hoyt about heroes and sports figures. Take a few minutes to check out Victory Girls as well. Posts this morning (so far) include covering the Equifax breach and how some of their execs made a financial windfall by selling off stock while the company kept quite about what happened and a great short fiction piece that brings home the impact 9/11 had one some of us.

Customer Service Fail

This isn’t the post I’d planned for this morning. That one would come later. This is a rant. I spent too many years working jobs where I had to deal with the public on a regular basis. I understood when I did that I represented not only myself but my employer. So, no matter how bad my day might have been, I did my best to show a good face to the customers. That’ why my experience with one of the local grocery stores this morning hits my hot buttons. Not only was the clerk less than helpful — we won’t even discuss cordial, etc. — but the store manage had completely fallen down on the job and no one working seemed to care one bit.

A little background. I made a quick run to the store to pick up coffee — cooooffffeeeee — and get some cash. It was approaching 0730 when I arrived. The first indication I should have had that this was not a smart move was when the doors that should have been unlocked half an hour earlier hadn’t been. Okay. No sweat. I could walk the short distance to the other set of doors.

It didn’t take long to find coffee that didn’t completely suck (yes, yes, I’m a coffee snob. There’s a reason I order Death Wish coffee each month). So I made my way to the only shopping lane that had an actual human to check out customers. That should have been my second clue. This store, which is located within a mile of several schools and has heavy early morning traffic because of it, was understaffed.

On a side note, it was also under-stocked. But that is nothing new. And then they wonder why people aren’t shopping there as much as they used to.

Anyway . . .

I finally get to the checker, hand over my coffee, my discount card as a “valued customer” and slide my credit card. Simple enough. Then, because I needed some cash, I hit the cash back option. And I wait. And wait. And wait.

Then the oh-so-bored cashier informs me she doesn’t have any cash.

Wait? what?

You’re running a till and you don’t have cash?

Well, not exactly but she only has a few dollars in the till. She might be able to give me my change but it would all be in ones and fives. Did she offer to give it to me? Hell no. Instead, when I continued to stare at her, dumbfounded and kicking myself for not going to the other store in the area that’s only slightly further from home, she finally calls to see if anyone has any cash.

Now, there were four self checkout lanes open as well. I was told after being insulted by the way she referred to me on the phone with her co-worker that I needed to go to one of those lanes and I would be shown the one that had cash. I asked if she had canceled the transaction and she actually did an eye roll at me and did everything but go “Duh!”. (And yes, I did check my account before leaving the store to make sure it had been canceled.)

So, muttering imprecations, I crossed to the far end of the store where the self-checkout lanes are located. Then I asked the checker stationed there to “help” which register I should use so I could get cash back. Mind you, this is the same person the original checker spoke to. I think you can imagine my reaction when I was told I’d just have to pick one and see because she didn’t know.

Yes, I made a comment about being unprepared for the business day and having less than stellar customer service. Worse, I needed a specific amount of money for something today and couldn’t request that amount because the self checkout lanes let you choose in increments of $20. So, I left with $10 more than I needed and also had the need to break a $20 so I had the exact amount for the yard guy. Which meant stopping somewhere else to get change.

Needless to say, I’m not a happy camper. The only reason I’d been going to this store the last month or two has been for its butcher block. But they aren’t keeping it stocked and its prices are far above any other store now. After today, I doubt I’ll be back in. What store opens without having cash in the cash drawers? What store opens without having its shelves stocked? Here’s a hint for grocery stores everywhere. You customers don’t want to have to trip over stockers during the middle of the day — and yes, this has happened more than once in this store — in order to pick up a loaf of bread or cat food or whatever.

Now I’m home and have a fresh cup of coffee and ready to settle down for work. As for the neighborhood store, it lost a customer this morning. I can forgive a bad customer service once. Sometimes even twice. But when it becomes clear this is a trend the store management isn’t putting an end to, it is time to say “bye” and move on. Fortunately, there are two other major grocery stores within 2 miles of my house and two smaller stores within 4 miles. Giving this one up will not be any sort of hardship, something the managers would do good to remember.

Busy, Busy

The title says it all. The last 24-hours have been very busy. Between work around the house (mainly painting), getting started on Light Magic (the next book in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series) and blogging, I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going. The results are more than satisfying, however. Of course, Myrtle the Evil Muse being evil, the opening of Light Magic changed from what I thought it would be but I think it works. At least I hope it does. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Yesterday was my regular day at Mad Genius Club and I blogged about why some people really do want heroes with human flaws over superheroes suffering from the Mary Sue syndrome. It led to some great discussion in the comments.

I also did a piece over at Victory Girls blog about a “new” form of microaggression. This one, called invisible microaggressions, came from a study of a whopping 13 women of color at 5 universities. Apparently that was a large enough sample pool to not only “discover” this new form but to break it down into 5 different forms. Riiiiiight.

This morning, I have two more posts up. The first, over at According to Hoyt, discusses the controversy over removing Confederate statues and the PR debacle Six Flags Over Texas created for itself by removing not only the Confederate States of America flag (and not the battle flag so many object to), but also every other flag except for the U. S. flag. It is more than ironic for a park named for the six national flags that have flow over the state, including the Republic of Texas, now flies only one.

The last is another post at Victory Girls. This one discusses the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay the lower court order tossing out parts of Texas’ Voter ID law. This decision will allow the state to proceed as usual with the November election. What pleased me about the decision is how the court not only looked at the law but also applied common sense in coming to its ruling.

Now it’s time for another cup of coffee and then it’s to work. I’m excited about getting back to Mossy Creek and the characters that inhabit that most unusual town. Besides, it keeps me from worrying about how the beta readers are liking the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them in the next few days. (To be fair, I told them I didn’t need to know until next week. Whimper.)

 

Zeke Elliot and the NFL

No one living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area can avoid the Zeke Elliot/NFL controversy that has been stewing for months. Dallas Cowboy fans cheered last season as Zeke, along with quarterback Dak Prescott, lit a fire under the offense, making the team so much more fun to watch than it had been in years. Unfortunately, where Zeke is concerned, he didn’t keep his fireworks contained to the gridiron. In the last year or so, he has been accused of physically abusing a former girlfriend, he was videotaped lifting a young woman’s top and baring her breast as they rode on a float in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There’s been at least one incident at a bar where he was accused of being in a fight. None are the sort of behavior he should have been taking part in and the abuse accusation brought him to the attention of the cops as well as the NFL.

Earlier this summer, after months investigating the allegations against Zeke, the NFL announced he would be suspended 6 games this season. If I remember correctly, that is the minimum number of games he can be suspended for this kind of offense. This ruling came months after the police and DA in the jurisdiction where the alleged offense took place decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him. That, as you can imagine, had many of the Cowboy faithful up in arms, asking how the NFL could say he did something when the authorities didn’t not.

That really isn’t the issue. The Cowboys and, by extension, the NFL are Zeke’s employers. Just as other companies have the right to fire employees, or place them on probation, for behavior they feel is detrimental to the company, so do the Cowboys and the NFL. After years of having football players brought up on charges — and often convicted — of spousal abuse, the NFL finally decided to take a hard stand where such accusations are concerned. I have no problem with that. Where I have an issue is with how the investigations are conducted and the appearance the NFL did not want to hear anything against the accuser, including the recommendation of the only investigator to interview her. But that is for another post.

Today’s rant comes to you as a result of a sports editorial I saw this morning. In it, the reporter took on those who fault the NFL for suspending Elliot even though the DA involved with the case chose not to file charges against him. The reporter said this is no different from all those times when the NFL, or any other professional sports group, suspends a player for drug violations. He pointed out how, in the majority of those cases, there are no charges filed. That, according to him, set the precedent for what happened with Zeke and he had no problem with that.

There is one problem with his logic in this. With the drug violations, the NFL has conducted drug tests and have received positive results. That is something tangible with which to base their decision on. That’s not the case in situations like the Zeke Elliot case. There is no drug test on which to base the decision. There is testimony and expert opinion.

If the NFL had listened to all the evidence and had talked with the investigator who interviewed the accuser, I’d have no issue with their decision — other than the fact it took them so long to come to a decision. That smacked of them waiting until Zeke did something else they could use to hang him. — and would, in fact, support it. But when I hear things like they didn’t want to talk with the investigator, a woman who talked with the accuser and who would have told them she had doubts about the accuser’s veracity, I have to wonder why. Then, to hear they didn’t call her because they were “aware” of her recommendation, seems to say they didn’t put much weight in her professional judgment. Why hire someone to investigate if you aren’t going to bring them forward to explain not only what they found but what their recommendation is and why?

Do I know if Zeke Elliot hit or otherwise abused his accuser? No, I don’t. If he did, I want to see him hung out to dry. This is a young man who needs to grow up and fast. Other examples of bad behavior show that. However, the NFL needs to be fair and open in how it handles these cases. The league will do more harm than good to bringing awareness to the seriousness of spousal/partner abuse if it goes into investigations with preformed conceptions of guilt. One major lawsuit proving bias will undo any and all good the league has done to not only show its players that it will no longer abide by abusive behavior but it will also undermine it with the public.

It’s done!

Just a quick update. The final draft for the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes is finished and off to the beta readers. Five new chapters have been added and some scenes expanded. It doesn’t change anything with the overall story arc but it does, I believe, give more of an insight into who Ashlyn Shaw is and what happened to make her the woman she is at the time VfA opens.

Assuming the beta readers don’t find anything major wrong with the updates, the digital version will go on sale in all the major markets by the middle of the month. The print version will be out shortly after that. I am also hoping to release an audio version of the book — as well as of the subsequent books — but those details are still being worked out.

In the meantime, it’s back to work. There are always more stories to write.

Is there a gasoline shortage?

Early yesterday morning, and I do mean early, I switched on the news as I made my first mug of coffee. This is my morning ritual of sorts. News, coffee and then checking the headlines of the local papers before moving onto national and international news. Needless to say, much of what I heard as I went through the motions of making coffee had to do with Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. That was expected. Harvey’s aftermath is going to be with Texas for a long time. What surprised me, however, was news that gas prices had jumped more than a little. At that point, they had gone up a minimum of $0.20/gal. As someone who’s spent most of her life in Texas, I know how important the Houston and Gulf Coast areas of Texas are to the petroleum industry. Had Harvey pushed us into a gasoline shortage?

Dallas Gas Line

A 7-Eleven employee tries to keep order as cars in West Dallas stream toward gas pumps, trying to fill up amid a panic in Dallas-Fort Worth about rising prices and shortage of fuel in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s impact on oil production on Aug. 31,. Brandon Formby

Having lived through the gasoline rationing of the 1970’s, I knew what a shortage could be like for those of us in the Lone Star State. Texas is a wonderful place to live — except when you can’t find fuel. Many of us drive 50 miles or more each way to work on a daily basis. Mass transit in most areas is minimal at best. Add to that this is a holiday weekend and more cars will be on the road. So…off I went to find the car keys to check to see how much gas I had in the tank.

Half a tank. That would be enough to get us through the weekend but not much further. It was also where I usually tried to fill up. That’s a habit born of years of having a family member with a critical illness, of having friends ill as well, and never knowing when I’d be called out. So, off I went to dress and go fill up before everyone on their way to work decided to do the same thing.

Several of the bureaucrats have said not to worry as long as you have half a tank of gas. I’ll admit to laughing, albeit a bit hysterically, at that. Obviously that person has never been stuck in traffic in Dallas. I’ve burned through close to half a tank stuck on 635 more than once. So pardon those of us who have lived through this before if we know better.

With the news still playing in the background, I started hearing of stations in the DFW area reporting they were out of gas and didn’t know when their next delivery would come in. QuickTrip was recommending their customers download their mobile app where they kept fuel status for their stations up-to-date. So I checked and, yep, the station I usually go to was dry. Another station, only a little further away had gas.

Off I went, not wanting to wait any longer and run the risk of that station running out as well. By the time I got there, the station was busy but not much more than usual on a work day morning. When I went inside to pay (which is one reason I don’t normally go to that station. The printer at the pumps always seems to be broken), the clerk checking me out said they were down to 700 gallons and didn’t know when they would get more. Word from Corporate was they would try to keep the stations along the highways stocked but even that was iffy until the situation along the coast eased up.

You can imagine my response when, later in the day, I saw Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton saying there is no fuel shortage. He put the blame on consumers panicking and trying to fill up when they really didn’t need to. Now, while this might technically be correct, there is more to the story than he admitted. I understand he needs to put a positive spin on the current situation, but Texans have “been there, done that” before. We know how storms like Harvey can impact the fuel industry, and do so for a long while.

One thing Sitton didn’t take into account with his statement is the fact stations and their corporate offices were already letting consumers know they weren’t getting fuel deliveries as planned and that it would impact supplies at least over the weekend and possibly long. Then you have to look at the fact that, while we knew prices would climb over the Labor Day Weekend — they always do — they don’t climb as much or as quickly as they did between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. People tend to think about their pocketbook in situations like this and that is exactly what happened yesterday.

In this situation, the problem isn’t that there’s not enough fuel. The problem is getting fuel to the stations from the refineries along the coast. The problem is making sure pipelines and transit ways — be they roadways, rail or water — are passable. Or, as one reporter put it this morning as he sat in a boat in the middle of a flooded area, “Beaumont doesn’t have a water shortage. It has a problem with getting drinkable water.” Yes, there is plenty of fuel. The problem is getting it to the stations right now.

Seeing stories in the media about how Texans are panicking aren’t helping the situation. Are there some folks filling up who don’t need to? You bet. But guess what? Anyone who has ever lived through a fuel shortage, especially one where price are increasing on a daily basis, would as well. That doesn’t equate to panic. It equates to us having been there before and understanding that the distribution chain isn’t going to be back to normal in a day or two.

Yes, it will improve as the waters recede. But all the tanks where the fuel has been stored will have to be checked and the fuel tested before it can be shipped. Then the distributors are going to have to find the trucks to move it from one place to another — and trains, etc. A number of those trucks, etc., have been damaged or destroyed by the floodwaters. Others will have to be checked to make sure they weren’t too badly damaged and can safely haul the fuel from Point A to Point B.

As for today, I just checked the QuikTrip app on my phone. Of the 10 stations located within 10 miles of my home, 6 are out of gas. The price for unleaded is up to $2.65/gal. That is almost $0.20/gal more than I paid yesterday morning. Yet, as I sit here writing this post, the news is telling us that there is no problem getting gas and prices really aren’t going up all that much. If i have to choose between believing what the bureaucrats say and what I’m seeing for myself, I’ll believe what I see.

http://www.papercitymag.com/culture/texas-gas-shortage-absolute-panic-drives-fights-long-lines/

Paper City Photo. Article by Chris Baldwin.

There might not be a true “shortage”. But, when you can’t find affordable gas, or any gas, for your car, you really don’t give a flying rat’s ass if it is a shortage or a distribution problem. No gas means no gas. All we can do is be smart with our driving over the weekend and keep an eye on the local stations, refilling when we need to. This situation will pass. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.

#Harvey,#Writing: On Writing and Harvey

This morning’s post will be short and sweet. Like many people around the country, especially here in Texas, my thoughts and prayers have been with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The images coming out of the Houston area, as well as Louisiana, have driven home how truly minor so many of the problems we tend to complain about really are. That includes the occasional whining this author makes about her evil muse. The writing happens, whether it is what I want it to be about or not. I have a roof over my head and I can — and have — made contributions to the relief effort.

On the writing front, the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes is almost finished. Unless something jumps out at me today, the final count of new chapters will rest at four. There have been some new scenes included as well. I haven’t done a final word count, but my guess today is that it will come in somewhere between 15,000 – 20,000 additional words. These additions don’t change the plot of the book — or the series — any. They do, however, add to the story and, I hope, make it better.

Hopefully, I’ll be sending the new version out to my beta readers this weekend.

On the Hurricane Harvey front, Harvey continues to wreak havoc on the country. There is the potential for flooding today going all the way up to Ohio. The Houston area continues to suffer flooding and other issues related to having too much water in too small an area. We are also starting to feel the related problems such a natural catastrophe can wreak on the rest of the state and country. Gas prices in the DFW area have jumped $0.20 or more per gallon. Some gas stations have already run out of fuel while others find their supplies being  rationed by the corporate offices.

As an example, the Quiktrip I usually patronize, especially if it is before dawn (this lot is very well lit), ran out of gas last night. The store I went to this morning was down to approximately 700 gallons and the lines were starting at most of the pumps. It won’t be long before it, too, is out of gas and they don’t know when they will get a new supply.

But higher gas prices aren’t the only new development on the Hurricane Harvey front. The Arkema SA chemical plant in Crosby suffered several explosions today. A crew had been left to monitor the plant but they had to be evacuated as the floodwaters rose. While the chemicals involved aren’t toxic, at least that is the last report I heard, they are irritants and some several people, including first responders, had been transported for treatment

There have been other, less serious ways, Hurricane Harvey has impacted the state. The preseason football game between the Cowboys and the Houston Texans has been canceled. The Texans had already been practicing in Frisco because they were unable to return home to Houston. The game had been moved here as well because of Harvey. However, when they got word yesterday (iirc) they could finally get home, the decision was an easy one for all involved. The game was cancelled so the team could finally be with their families and see what they were dealing with. I will say,

We have, as a friend said a few moments ago, an interconnected economy. That means the impact of Harvey is going to be felt in many ways — beef prices because of the number of cattle killed in the flooding, prices of foods made of various grains grown in Texas, prices of items that come into the Port of Houston (and other impacted ports) that have either been lost in the storm or couldn’t come ashore. The list goes on.

We will recover but it will take time. It will also take patience and understanding. Most of all, it will take hard work. So this morning, I’m saying an extra prayer that calm heads prevail and Mother Nature decides to give us a break for awhile.

#Victory Girls: Trump, Harvey and Texans Overcoming

I am excited to be part of the Victory Girls blog. The women I blog with come from all over the country and aren’t afraid to give voice to the conservative point of view. To be included with them is an honor. While I will still talk politics here, most of my posts about politics, President Trump and similar topics will take place over there. But don’t fret. I’ll announce those posts here and on Facebook. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to check the blog out if you aren’t already familiar with it. I think you’ll find it well worth your time.

While you’re there, my first post is now live. As a Texan, it was only natural for that post to be one about the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Specifically, about President Trump’s visit to the state yesterday as well as notice that the Department of Transportation has already freed up monies to help repair roads and bridges damaged by the horrific flooding in Harvey’s aftermath.

President Trump Briefed on Harvey

President Trump and Melania, his wife, listened during a briefing on Tuesday about Hurricane Harvey relief efforts with local leadership and relief organizations at Fire Station 5 in Corpus Christi, Tex. (Photo Credit: DOUG MILLS / THE NEW YORK TIMES)

I was even good. Hey, it was my first post after all. I didn’t laugh at the reporters and social media mavens who were appalled by the First Lady’s high heels as she left the White House yesterday. I didn’t point out the very appropriate white tennis shoes she wore when she and the President landed in Corpus Christie. I didn’t even tell them to get a life when they got all butt hurt over the President’s ball cap or made fun of the cap Mrs. Trump wore. If that is all they can do, well, it shows how pathetic mainstream media has become.

Now I hear a cup of coffee calling my name. Until later!

A couple of quick notes

I’ll be back later with a full post, but there are a couple of notes I wanted to share this morning.

First, since it’s Tuesday, it’s my day to blog over at Mad Genius Club. As a Texan, my mind is on Houston and all the other communities that have been — or will be — impacted by Harvey. As a writer, I can’t help but look at what has been happening and drawing inspiration from it.

Second, and this is really exciting, I am going to start blogging over at Victory Girls. My first regularly scheduled post will be tomorrow. If you’ve never visited the blog, take a few minutes and head over to look around.

Finally, I should finish inputting the edits and new material into the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes today or tomorrow. I haven’t done a final word count comparison but I am adding somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 new words. Once done, it will be off to the beta readers to get their opinions. Once I hear back from them, I’ll input any changes needed and then ramp up for the release of the new edition. If everything goes as planned, that will be by the middle of September.

Before I go for the morning, my thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Houston and all those impacted by Harvey. Please keep them in your thoughts as well and, if you are the praying kind, add a prayer.

Until later!

 

Hurricane Harvey

Despite the early jokes about a large invisible rabbit going to hit the Texas coast, Harvey has been anything but invisible or fluffy. It is going to take months, years in some cases, for the impacted communities to recover. The fact there have been no more deaths than there have been is miracle. Unfortunately, the danger isn’t over and won’t be for some time. More rain is expected and, by the end of the week, some communities will have seen more rain fall in a week than they usually get in a year. No matter how good the infrastructure might be, it isn’t going to be able to handle that much water at one time.

If you’ve watched the news any over the weekend, you’ve seen examples bravery, giving and stupidity. People have pulled out their own boats to go through flooded neighborhoods to help those stranded by high water. Others have done whatever they could to help rescue those foolish enough to drive into high water. And, yes, there have been way too many who either misjudged how deep the water happened to be or who thought if they drove fast enough, they could get through flooded intersections.

One video I saw yesterday showed a man in a large pickup trying to drive through a flooded section of one of Houston’s freeways. People who had either parked or who had walked from downtown to see the flooding lined the roadway and yelled for him to stop. He didn’t and before he knew what happened, his pickup was floating. Yes, floating. Then it was sinking. He climbed through the window and, instead of swimming to safety, he moved to the front of the still floating and moving truck. I swear it looked like he thought he could push it out of the water. Then, when he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he moved to the back of the pickup. At one point, if I remember correctly, he went back into the cab of the truck to get something. He is lucky all he lost was his truck. His lack of judgment — Hell, let’s be honest. He was stupid — could have cost him his life.

Yet, for ever video I saw like that, I saw or heard about at least two counter-examples of people helping friends, neighbors and strangers. Just as times like this bring out the worst in some people, it brings out the best in many more. We will never know how many “every day heroes” made their way through the areas impacted by the hurricane, helping those stranded, bringing them to safety. I salute each and every one of those men and women. They are what helps make this country great.

One of the saddest images I’ve seen so far was of a Houston-area nursing home. Approximately a dozen residents, some in wheelchairs and others on O2, had to be rescued from waist to chest-deep water. Why they hadn’t been transported before conditions deteriorated, I don’t know. It ranks right up there with stories I’ve been hearing of some hospital patients being discharged home prior to Harvey hitting, not because they were medically ready to be discharged but because the hospitals didn’t know what their power situation would be when the hurricane arrived. How many of those patients would have been better served to have been transferred to other hospitals outside of the area and how many then found themselves trapped in their homes by the flooding? (One of our local anchors was worried yesterday about a friend who was one of those patients. The friend had had brain surgery just a few days prior to being discharged because of the incoming hurricane and lived in one of the areas of Houston with some of the worst flooding.)

Should Houston’s mayor have ordered the city evacuated? That is a question that is going to be debated for months. It is easy now, as arm chair quarterbacks, to say he should have. But knowing what traffic is like in Houston on the best of days, I shudder to think what it would have been like with panicked drivers and bad weather.

Along similar lines, we are already seeing some folks criticizing those in the path of the hurricane for not leaving even without the evacuation order. I’ll even admit to wondering that myself. Then I remembered all the potential “paths” the National Weather Service had for Harvey up until less than a day before it made landfall. How many times have the folks on the coast evacuated, only to have the storm du jour veer off and nothing more than some heavy rain hit? How many of those who have condemned them for not leaving considered the cost of doing so? Some people simply couldn’t afford financially to leave their homes. When it because apparent the financial costs of leaving were much less than the potential loss of life, it was no longer safe to leave. They were, in short, caught in a Catch-22.

Houston’s Medical Center area is also under a minimum of 2 – 3 feet of water right now. The doctors are having to look at evacuating the most critically ill of the patients there. But that isn’t the only problem facing the hospitals in the Medical Center area. The hospitals are cut off. That means the only way patients needing treatment can get to them is to be airlifted in. It also means staff and supplies can’t get in. Conversely, the staff members already at the hospital can’t leave. It is most definitely not an optimal situation for anyone.

And before anyone gets too smug about how this won’t impact anyone outside of the areas directly impacted by the hurricane, think again. Consider the importance of the Texas Gulf Coast region to this country’s oil production. Think about the fact that much of our shipping traffic comes into the ports along the Texas Coast. Then consider parts of Louisiana are going to be impacted by Harvey as well. This is not only a local emergency but a state, regional and, to a lesser extent, national one as well.

Hurricane Harvey and it’s impact on the Houston area and surrounding counties is a perfect example of the adage, “there but for the grace of God go I.” Take a long and hard look at what happened and look at your own home and city. Are you, personally, prepared for an emergency? Do you have a plan in place if something were to happen and you were to lose electricity for days? Remember, if you lose electricity, it’s a pretty good bet your local grocer will as well. If that happens, what are you going to do?

Look.

Learn.

Plan.

Prepare.

And, today, pray for Houston and the other impacted areas. If you have the means to send help — donations or actual volunteer hours — do so.

 

 

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