As I sit on my front porch with a cigar and a whiskey, I'm recalling that quote from Sir Winston Churchill. Saturday the 9th is my first day off since August 21st. Nineteen days straight, including five days of 24 hour deployment. Hell of a run.
I can't complain. I've been deployed to Army exercises/operations that lasted much longer and it was 12 plus hours a day. With only MREs to eat. God knows there are men and women living in much more stressful conditions than I was, using lawn chair cushions on the floor of my office as a bed. We also had only five "24 hour" days, in an air conditioned building (Praise the Lord we didn't loose electricity, the backup generator was down :<( ). Plus with this I get something the Army never gave me, paid overtime!
Last weekend we were notified that regular days off would begin this on Saturday the 9th, and the next day we got the word it would be the end of 12 hour shifts. So I expected to get off at 0600 Saturday the 9th. Well, that got cut too, and I'm just ran an eight hour shift. After nineteen days, I am not complaining about loosing four hours of overtime. We're all burned out.
I told my troops to go home and not do anything this weekend. No extra employment, nothing. Sleep in, spend time with family and friends, just take it down. You've earned it. I'm still a bit self conscious when I say this about my squad (one of my officers is my age), but damn I'm proud of them and to be associated with them.
I can say this, these cops eared their pay during Hurricane Harvey. Countless times going out in the back of dump trucks and other large vehicles to rescue people in the street, some with children, some in wheelchairs. People that needed help, the cops, firemen, other emergency services, volunteers, the Cajun Navy, they made it happen. They improvised, adapted, overcame
and were then when they were needed.
No one had to say we're different colors, religions, etc. It didn't matter. Texas were people in need and when a great need arises, Texans (and other great people) step up to the plate. The Cajun Navy from Louisiana. Churches from multiple states. Non-profit groups. Most of you don't know a man named Jim McIngvale, better know as Mattress Mack. He's the owner of three furniture superstores in the Houston area, Gallery Furniture
. Immediately he volunteered his stores for shelters, put our mattresses for families to sleep on and allowed the National Guard to use the parking lots at assembly areas. He even put the word out if you have a CDL, you can use one of his trucks to help with the evacuation. That's a lot of risk, to give a stranger such a piece of equipment like that. But Mack can always be counted on whenever there is a great need.
We've gotten through the initial worst part of it. The flooded out cars have been towed off to lots. Says enough that many storage lots were dividing the cars by insurance company (makes it easier for the adjuster to process the claim.) The flood waters have mostly receded, the roads have been cleared, people are starting to recover. You will see a lot of homes with large debris in front of them, ripped out carpet, destroyed furniture, ruined appliances. Many have flood insurance (a necessity on the Gulf Coast) and that will ease the financial burden coming. Those who don't will have to recover more slowly, pay as they can, or completely restart somewhere else. Also a factor in living in a flood prone area.
No part of this great nation is exempt from some potential natural disaster. The coasts have hurricanes, the west has earthquakes, the midwest (the entire country to one degree or another) has tornados. In a discussion with the worshipers of Church of Climate Change
, a point I will continually make. If you're betting on man against Mother Nature, you're an absolute fool. Bet on her every day and twice on Sunday. This old bitch has been around a long time before apes and man, ever cock roaches. She will be around when we're all dust.
So what's next. For me, immediately, I'm taking this weekend off. I'll sleep in, read, start blogging more, see to the family, and catch up on some household stuff. The wife and I are having dinner with some friends Saturday evening, I need a drink and a good steak. And as I'm unwinding at 3:30am, thinking of the marathon we've all gone through, I'm recalling the great words of Dr Martin King, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm Free at last!" Plus I'm enjoying the sound of my Bug Zapper painfully murdering the mosquitoes, one of the minor misfortunes of a lot of rain. Yes, the whiskey is starting to take effect!
All in all things are coming back to normal, for good and bad. Businesses are open again or being repaired, soon to be open. School restarts Monday (to the horror of my 17 year old) and while many schools are damaged, the schools districts are making plans to handle this challenge. The National Guard is redeploying back and FEMA is working on deploying to Florida.
As far as Texas and Houston, we've been here before, we'll be here again. I can only think of a great man and leader, Vince Lombardi.
"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."
Texas and Houston will be back up before you know it. The Texans play the season opener Sunday and I know JJ Watt will be leading the team out, carrying an American flag (we don't have the issues the 49ers have) and I predict a victory. The team is psyched up, it knows what a morale boost winning will be for this city. Nothing was better for New Orleans after Katrina than the sights of the Saints beating the division rivals Atlanta.
Florida, best to you right now, we know you'll pull through. Trust me, the Cajun Navy and countless others will be there before you know it to get you back on your feet.
Time for a refill (damned that whiskey is good) and soon enough I'll need to go to sleep. I've missed sleeping next to my wife (and dog Bugs). Have a great weekend.