If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


03 SEP 2017

DELFT - Before moving to Delft, I lived in Houston long enough to have a good idea of what a hurricane can do. My 'double-wide' was in Brazoria county, on the south rim of Greater Houston. That was country when I moved there and suburbs forever when I left.

Americans, as folks are again discovering, are diverse, not shy about protesting and can be stubborn. Texas sure is and so was my old rural neighborhood. During the times when a hurricane came onshore, or even a bad storm, all that drops; people help people who need help. The news feeds carried photos of high water and high compassion. Old people seemed hard hit from what I saw. I was shocked seeing a photo of people left in a care home, up to their waist in water.

Before I Moved to Delft

"It was a California kind of day in Delft on Tuesday last - when the air has a thin mist. Sunshine and a warm day in the low 80's. Forecast is for rain and cold next. So, I spent most of Tuesday outside. We had a summer dinner on one of the boat-restaurants: tapas and mesas with a sunset for dessert."

Photograph by Mike Osborne for The New Yorker

Seeing the photos, reading the street and highway signs took me right back. An image of a guy, chest deep in water, going through a street in Dickerson calling out to anyone still there who needed help. My rowing buddy lived there, so I'd ride my motorcycle to visit. Another, a video of a man determined to right his back fence, during the storm. He lived down in Rosharon; my house address was County Road 836, Rosharon, Texas. Of course, I left to move to a town several meters below sea level.

I remember one time I moved my pickup on to the high part of the road outside my house. The water in my yard was at the front porch. A photo of a pickup plowing through water up to its headlights. You do that slow and steady.

My partner had the same reaction as I did: how is it possible they had been abandoned? Did the staff simply take the day off? The face of an elderly person sitting, calm and resigned, in a wheelchair with water up to her lap.

Tech lets me see a map of south Houston, where some of my family live, and it was colored red for mandatory evacuation. I found my old house; it was about a mile from yellow: 'ya-all sure aughta get out, hear?'

My partner suggested I phone but I did not. After it passes, sure but not while they are in the middle of so much. Their momentoes, books, parts of hobbies, and on and on - likely ruined or lost - if the water rises higher.

That is what is in the mind of a lot of people, most of whom do not have flood insurance. That must be very hard to think about while they sit and wait. For many, the water has already taken all they had except the ground.

A trick is to stay in the middle; best, get behind something with a raised tail pipe, big wheels, that pushes aside a wave of water. Otherwise, slow and steady. Whatever you do, it's important to keep going once in.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen