Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rain, Rain and More Rain

It's raining in the Texas Hill Country! It's raining all the way up to Oklahoma. There have been reports of flash flooding and 20 inches of rain in Marble Falls. It's raining here in San Antonio right now! Looking out my patio doors, I see water coming down heavily and being blown sideways onto my patio. The prediction is there's more to come. The images on the left are of Perdnales Falls, a lovely place in the Hill Country. The first one is of the falls at normal levels. The next one was taken 5 minutes later. That's flash flooding!

The stray cat living on my patio doesn't seem to like the weather much. The patio area is dry except for the occasional gusts of rain which get blown under the bamboo curtain I use for shade. Right now he is sitting under the rattan chair which is far enough from the porch wall that he probably doesn't get wet at all. He isn't happy about the weather because it is keeping him pinned to one location. So he is yowling occasionally in complaint about the situation.

I love rain. It's my favorite kind of weather. When it's misting I've been known to put on a jacket and walk outdoors. If it's drizzling I have no problem walking with an umbrella. If it is pouring down, as it is now, I do storm watches. This all dates back to my childhood.

When I was much younger, my dad, sister, and I used to do storm watches from our front porch. This was special unexpected fun. We'd put chairs out on the cement part which was barely wide enough to be a walkway. Then we'd all sit and watch the storm come in. First you smelled the water in the air. Then the wind would start to blow the tree tops. The temperature would drop quickly. Soon the entire tree would be waving in the wind. Occasionally, you'd see some lightning across the sky. That only made it better. You could feel the excitement in the air on your skin and the flash of lights was never the same. The huge strikes were awesome! The thunder boomed and you could tell how far away the storm was. Suddenly the weather held its breath for a moment and everything went quiet. It was as if the world was waiting for the music to start. The first raindrops would fall. Big fat ones widely spread apart. As the fall of raindrops picked up you could hear the tattoo on the street and rooftops. It would start pouring down and the trees would go back to whipping wildly and the lightning would once again crash across the sky. Now it was rain! Now it was a storm! God was cleansing the world! And you were there, safe and sound with your dad, watching it all happen.

When the rain started blowing under the eves we would grab the chairs and hurry inside. There we would quickly dry off any water and Mom was always waiting with something warm to drink. Or supper would be ready and waiting on the table. There were sliding glass doors on the back of the house so we could continue to watch the storm while we ate. It was an awesome time!

It isn't so awesome right now for the people in Marble Falls. There have been 11 people killed according to the news reports. I wouldn't wish that on anybody. And it seems as if the Marble Falls people are ill prepared for this type of event. This isn't a tornado. Those have warning systems and you can seek shelter in the center of your house. This is flash flooding (see above images) and there is no place you can get out of the waters way except for your rooftops if it catches you and that happens all too frequently. If you check out the news report I linked to you can also click on some videos that tell horrific tales of this. They show lots of water and cars that have gotten washed down stream, the most impressive of these being a stretch limo with at least 4 windows shoved up against some other cars and a telephone pole.

I admit this is sort of gawking on my part. Growing up in the very flat Rio Grande Valley there wasn't much flooding. Certainly not the kind we get in San Antonio. In fact, the only flood I remember as a child happened because the Rio Grande river overflowed its banks and filled the flood plain between Mercedes and Weslaco, TX in 1967. This happened because of Hurricane Beulah. It actually moved north up the Rio Grande river and brought torrential rains which flooded the river. Not even hurricane Carla (1961), which took down trees, brought that much water. My grandparents lived in Mercedes in 1967 and saw that flood. I lived in Weslaco on the other side of the flood plain and saw it too.

The picture on the left is a scanned newspaper image of the flood before that one in 1922. Among that group of men, standing up to their hips in flood water, is my maternal grandfather. It's one of the few pictures I have of him from before I was born. The building behind him is his Texaco gas station, the only one in Mercedes for many years. If you think you'd like to read the entire small town history report on Mercedes, TX, which that image is a part of, go here. The writing isn't great, it was a college report, but it's the story of my home town.

The rain has stopped outside. The rug on my patio is pretty wet. People are starting to move about. The cat outside would like to come inside. Too bad, he'll have to wait till I can get him to a vet for a checkup and bath. If more rain should come I will be inside safe and dry. I think I'll try to clear off space for a candle to light and keep me and the rain company. And life goes on. Peace, Hope, and Joy!

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