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Reactions to the devastation: Two perspectives

By Bobby Tingle

Since I am new to the area, I lacked confidence. Nothing about my new neighborhood seemed to indicate any real threats. During storms of the past, nothing along the lines of rising water and flooding had occurred. But I just couldn’t stay Tuesday night. So my wife and I packed some clothes and went to Mid-County to stay with my mom. Early Wednesday morning, my worst fears proved to be pointless. There was little evidence in my neighborhood of any danger. Down the street there was a flow of water spilling into the storm drain. It flowed west through the woods from 16th Street. The only accumulation I noticed, during the three or four days it flowed, was at a level you get when you wash your car in the driveway. Friday the flow stopped.

A bit further down the street is the access road to Interstate 10. Early Wednesday morning it was closed. An officer with the State of Texas, parked in his Suburban at the beginning of the on ramp behind a sign that read Road Closed. An 18-wheeler was parked just west of the on ramp. The driver was speaking to the officer. As I walked up he was scooting back to his truck. I asked to take his picture. He was in a hurry, he had just found out his trip would include an unexpected five hour detour.

I walked up behind the officer and waved good morning to him behind his closed window. He did not seem concerned. I walked out into the East Bound lane of Interstate 10.

The quiet was deafening. The bareness was disturbing.

I took a route that through town to check the flooding from an overflow of Adams Bayou. Going down Strickland there was no barricade at Martin going toward West Park. Wow, good news. I had no problem getting down West Park to 16th Street. No barricades to McArthur. I turned left at the light onto Green going toward downtown. I was stopped at the railroad track. Although I could not see a lot of water beyond the track from the 1300 block of Green I knew it was there.

We stayed home Wednesday night, my confidence restored.

That’s not much of a story is it? Compared to thousands of heartbreaking stories.

I can tell one such story, at least what I know.

Several weeks ago a long time employee left for another opportunity. During her final week she trained her replacement who came to us by way of a temporary employment agency. She learned quickly and performed well. She quickly became part of the team and was likely to become a permanent part of the staff.

She calls Deweyville home. During other events at other times she told me she was the worrier and her husband was not. She anticipated catastrophe while he went on with life. But this time she said the roles reversed. That was when she knew something big was happening. It took about forty-eight hours for them to load their personal belongings into a trailer and move to higher ground. Soon after their frantic departure, their house was underwater. Then another relative’s house was in danger and that relative was moved.   Then another relative, who she could not have ever imagined would ever see flooding, seemed to be at risk. Up until that point her resolve to be at work and carry on with life was set. The devastation somehow though now seemed overwhelming. Remorsefully and in tears she told me she had to go. She said she would not be back. There was too much to do. That was Monday morning.

Friday morning we heard from her. The third relative’s house was not flooded after all. While the water was still high she and her husband went on a scouting expedition. They found some dry ground above the water. They plan to buy that ground and rebuild in Deweyville.

I am not surprised. She and many like her seem to have the tenacity to persevere.

My hat is tipped, so to speak, to this former co-worker, her husband, her family and her community. I suspect there are more such stories in Deweyville and Orange. Now you have my perspective on two of those stories from this historic event.

Take time to pray for God’s blessing, we can be assured He will.

Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. He can be reached at bobby.tingle@orangeleader.com