So, this is what life is like in a swamp.
At the time of this writing a good-sized chunk of Fort Bend County is under water and has been for most of a week. I hear people referring to this flood as “unprecedented” or a “500-year flood.”
The flooding in the area from the swollen Brazos River may be unprecedented in some ways, but I suspect this is not the most the mighty river has spilled over its banks. It’s just the most since records were first kept, which is a relatively short time compared to the many centuries the river has been flowing across the land we now call Texas.
People seem to forget that this whole region is a swamp that humans have drained, diverted, levied and dammed to make habitable. The problem is, Mother Nature won’t be constrained that way. The Brazos has changed course many times and it is usually events like this that force her to reroute her way to the sea.
When you consider all that man has done to reshape the surface and compound that with the 12 or so feet of subsidence this area has suffered with water being pumped out of the aquifers, it’s no wonder that we’ve had major flooding the last couple of years. The excess water simply has no place to go.
The reality is that the water is here and with it are the complications we must deal with. All of us have been inconvenienced by road closures and many people have damage to homes, business and vehicles. As we move into recovery mode, there are a lot of things we need to look out for, both man made and natural.
First of all, the area is ripe for fraud. Every disaster is always plagued by fraudulent repair companies. Before you sign anything or shell out some cash, do your homework on the company you plan to hire. Are they local? Are they bonded and well established here? What does the Better Business Bureau say about them?
We must also be on the lookout for flooded cars being sold by unscrupulous dealers. There will be an abundance of them hitting the market soon. Again, do your homework before buying an auto.
Another thing to consider is the impact of the floods on animals both wild and domestic. A lot of pets and livestock have been displaced. If you’re missing a pet, check local animal shelters. If you’re able, consider fostering some pets as most shelters are usually overrun in the spring and the flood is just compounding the problem. Local shelters need help – lots of it!
Be aware of displaced wildlife. We have all seen pictures of deer seeking dry ground. Keep in mind that most everything else in nature is doing the same thing. That means everything from insects to squirrels, coyotes, snakes and alligators will be showing up in places you don’t normally see them. Don’t harass or kill them. Avoid them as much as possible and notify authorities if necessary.
Keep in mind that fire ants will be on the move, bees will be swarming and the mosquito population will be exploding with all the standing water around here. Be prepared for that and protect yourself and your family. This will be a problem for a long while.
It’s going to take a long time for the river to go down and for the area to drain and dry out. Recovery won’t happen overnight. Be patient and persistent. We are all in this together and we will need to help one another to get through it.
As much as possible, use local services and shop locally as you clean up, rebuild property and replace lost and damaged items. There will be huge economic impact on the area with lost productivity and sales. The more we can help our neighbors and ourselves, the better off all of us will be. The more money you send out of the area, the more jobs and prosperity you send with it.
Another important thing to do is be friendly, considerate and helpful, especially on the roads. Road construction has already caused a great deal of road congestion. That has been made more difficult with road closures due to flooding. It is inevitable that some of the flooded roads will be damaged, requiring more repair and more congestion.
Please try to remember that we are all in this together. All of us become impatient and get rushed. We need to relax and cooperate so everyone can get where they’re going. That’s the kind of courtesy people should be exhibiting anyway. All too often on Hwy. 59 you see people using the HOV lane as a passing lane or they cut over and use the on-ramp lanes to pass other cars. Frequently I’ve seen motorcyclists shoot up between lanes of cars.
Take a chill pill, people. Trust me, your hurry is no greater than anyone else’s hurry. We’re all running later than we like but we will all get there unless you do something stupid and cause an accident. And just because you’re moving slow (or not at all) in traffic, it does not give you permission to be on your cell phone. Please realize that by using it when you’re behind the wheel that you have become part of the problem, not the solution.
OK, I have digressed. I’ll get off my soapbox and get back to the topic at hand. The point I’ve been trying to make is that the flood affects all of us in some way and it’s up to all of us to work together to recover from it. The next few weeks and months are going to be long and messy, so let’s all do our part and help out one another.
Maybe if we all learn to work together and get along it won’t get so nasty this fall when the politicians start slinging their mud all over the place and dividing the country with their politics. Nah, who am I kidding? Some things are just too much to hope for. But that’s life in a swamp, even a political one.