Texas Liberal

All People Matter

A FEMA Blue Tarp Still On A Houston Roof

A few days ago I saw a blue FEMA tarp still on a roof here in Houston.

These tarps were all over right after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

I believe Galveston still has a number of homes with the tarps still in place. But I have not taken any pictures of those tarps.

While you can’t see it very well in this picture, the word FEMA is visible at the top of the tarp.

Here is the FEMA website. People often need help after a disaster.

The tarps come from FEMA’s Operation Blue Roof. Here are facts about this program.

Here are facts about Hurricane Ike.

Here is a great photo essay of Ike from the Boston Globe. 

After Ike is a book of pictures from the air of damage done by Ike. I have this book. It’s interesting enough of you lived in areas impacted by the storm.

(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

December 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 5 Comments

President Obama To Visit Texas—How Will He Refrain From Laughing When Some Texans Demand More Federal Help?

President Obama will be Texas today.

The President is scheduled to visit El Paso and Austin.

(Above–President Obama at Texas A & M University in 2009. President Obama and Texans get along just fine–Unless some folks would claim that the photo is a fake.)   

Because the Johnson Space Center Houston was not awarded a retired space shuttle, and because the President has not declared a federal emergency over ongoing wildfires in Texas, some feel Mr. Obama does not like Texas.

This article on the President’s visit to Texas written by Maria Recio at McClatchy Newspapers has the following quote–

“You can almost make the case the administration has a vendetta against Texas,” said Republican Rep. Michael Burgess.

Congressman Burgess has also been going around talking about fictitious death panels as a part of Health Care Reform.

Why would anybody not like such a fine person?

The federal government has helped Texas with the wildfires—

“Current federal aid covers 75 percent of Texas’s costs for emergency response work, such as evacuations, equipment, field camps and meals for firefighters, police barricading and traffic control. The agency’s regional office in Denton continues to monitor the situation and work closely with Texas Forest Service and Texas Division of Emergency Management, FEMA officials say. In addition, firefighting teams from more than 30 states have provided state-to-state support for firefighting efforts in Texas.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry has asked why parts tornado ravaged Alabama have been declared disaster zones while  Texas has not been so designated.

From our Governor—

“You have to ask, ‘Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?’ I know our letter didn’t get lost in the mail…” 

What a decent Christian man.

If it is all about a political grudge, why should President Obama help Alabama anymore than he should assist Texas? Barack Obama won 39% of the vote in Alabama in 2008. He lost Texas with 44% of the vote.

The President is not going to win Alabama in 2012.

Here is the bottom line—

Rick Perry and Texas accepted many billions of dollars of Barack Obama approved federal stimulus dollars. 

The federal government has helped Texas with the wildfires.  Tea Party supporters and other Republicans and others are free to form a battalion citizen volunteers to help Texans deal with the problems presented by wildfires. To this point, though the fires have been going on for some weeks now, I’m not aware of any so-assembled  citizen-volunteers.

* The Lyndon B. Johnson  Space Center was a gift to Texas from a Texas politician who looked up to Franklin D. Roosevelt as a hero. You’d think that conservative Texans would be demanding that the federally operated  Space Center be removed from Texas as an intrusion upon our states rights and sense of self -reliance.

It is not that I view Barack Obama with an uncritical eye, it is just that opposition to him in some quarters of Texas is so extreme that you can’t but help to be glad to see the guy in the Lone Star State. You’ve got to appreciate him for the enemies he has made.

The bad news for Texans is that these enemies, maybe 20% of all Texans, are the people who vote in Republican primaries. This angry minority is doing great harm to public education and public health in Texas.

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Texas Wildfires Are Ongoing—Facts About Wildfires

There are major wildfires taking place in all over Texas, in other plains states, and in portions of Mexico.

(Above– The current Texas Wildfires as seen from the U. of Texas owned McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.)

(Blogger’s Note 9/7/11—This post is from April. Here is a link to the current wildfires in Texas. If you review this post, you’ll see that there are facts about wildfires in general that are useful to understanding what is taking place.)

Update 4/22/11–Texas Governor Rick Perry has asked people to pray for rain.

Update 4/21-11—Cooler and more humid weather is helping firefighters.

Update 4/20/11—This report from the morning of the 20th says that fires are burning in every part of Texas

Update 4/20/11—People in England are reading about the fires.  

Update 4/19/11—As of the evening of the 19th, the wildfires are moving towards the Dallas-Fort Worth area.   

Update 4/19/11–More and more fires in Texas.

Update 4/18/11—Here is an overview of the situation in Texas from the Abilene Reporter-News.     

Update–4/17/11—Despite his ceaseless criticisms of the federal government, Texas Governor Rick Perry has asked for federal help with the fires from President Barack Obama.

Update–4/17/11–New fires and gusty winds to spread those fires are the unfortunate conditions in parts of Texas.

Update–4/16/11–With the fires also taking place in Mexico, the U.S. has sent some airplanes to help our neighbors out.

Update–4/16/11—The fires have cost a 105 year old Texas man the homes he grew up in and lived in.

Update–4/15/11–Here is a report about the fires from late in the evening of the 15th. This report includes the sad news of the death of a firefighter. 

Update—4/15/11—While some fires are mostly contained, other are starting or rekindling.

Update —4/15/11 —The Texas Forest Service has ongoing reports of wildfires in Texas. 

Here are a number of facts about wildfires from National Geographic.

From National Geographic—

There are three conditions that need to be present in order for a wildfire to burn, which firefighters refer to as the fire triangle: fuel, oxygen, and a heat source. Fuel is any flammable material surrounding a fire, including trees, grasses, brush, even homes. The greater an area’s fuel load, the more intense the fire. Air supplies the oxygen a fire needs to burn. Heat sources help spark the wildfire and bring fuel to temperatures hot enough to ignite. Lightning, burning campfires or cigarettes, hot winds, and even the sun can all provide sufficient heat to spark a wildfire. Although four out of five wildfires are started by people, nature is usually more than happy to help fan the flames.”

Here is a fact sheet from the Centers For Disease Control that talks about the potential health effects of wildfires and how you can protect yourself from these risks.

Here is the FEMA web page on wildfires.

Quite aptly, April is Wildfire Awareness Month in our nation.

As of the afternoon of Wednesday, April 13, Big Bend Now reports that while some of the fires in Texas are contained to a degree, there are still a number of concerns.

The Mineral Wells (Tx) Index has a very good April 13 report on where the different fires are taking place in Texas.

Marfa Public Radio is keeping folks up to date.

Because conditions are so dry in much of Texas, there are, as of April 13, 194 Texas counties with burn bans in effect.

If you are the one who starts a fire in your community because you have broken burn ban rules, you will forever be seen by your neighbors as the town dumbass.

Texas is so large that it can be difficult to grasp where Texas news events are located. While I’ve lived in Texas for 13 years and have explored at least some of the state, these fires are hitting areas of Texas I’ve never visited.

The excellent Handbook of Texas Online is a great resource to learn all about the state. These are the folks who publish the Texas Almanac. The Almanac is another great was to find out about Texas. You should buy a copy.

I’ve long been of the view that many of problems of urban Texas—I live in Houston— have much in common with the problems of rural Texas. I’d be certain that the good folks in West Texas who have suffered from these fires will need the help of individual citizens, charitable groups, and of government to recover.

The Jeff Davis County Relief Fund in Fort Davis, Texas is taking donations to help people.

Here is the link to the FEMA Fire Management Assistance Grant Program which helps state, local, and tribal governments recover from wildfire damage.

My friend Harold Cook who very familiar with this part of Texas–and with of all of Texas for that matter–has written about the fires at his blog Letters From Texas. The great Texas political blog Juanita Jean has also posted on this important topic.

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chinese Landslides—Facts About Landslides

More than 700 people are dead from a landslide in China. More than 1000 people are missing.

(Above—Teams of people are looking for survivors in the Chinese landslides.)

What is landslide? How are landslides caused?

Here is how landslides are described by the Federal Emergency Management Agency—

Landslides occur in all U.S. states and territories. In a landslide, masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope. Landslides may be small or large, slow or rapid. They are activated by:

  • storms,
  • earthquakes,
  • volcanic eruptions,
  • fires,
  • alternate freezing or thawing,
  • and steepening of slopes by erosion or human modification.

Debris and mud flows are rivers of rock, earth, and other debris saturated with water. They develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground, during heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, changing the earth into a flowing river of mud or “slurry.” They can flow rapidly, striking with little or no warning at avalanche speeds. They also can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars, and other materials.

Landslide problems can be caused by land mismanagement, particularly in mountain, canyon, and coastal regions. In areas burned by forest and brush fires, a lower threshold of precipitation may initiate landslides. Land-use zoning, professional inspections, and proper design can minimize many landslide, mudflow, and debris flow problems.

The FEMA link has tips on how to survive a landslide.

The U.S. Geological Survey has a Landslides Hazards Program.

Here are a number of landslide links from the Geological Survey.

Here is a list of major world landslides in the past 100 years.

Here is a map of areas in the U.S. that are prone to landslides.

The Chinese landslides are taking place in Zhouqu County which is part of Gansu Province. The read area in the map below is Gansu Province.

Zhouqu County is part of the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Gannan has seen riots between people on Tibetan origin and Han Chinese.

I’ve never heard of Gansu, but the fact is that 26 million of our fellow world citizens live in this place.

Here are some facts about Gansu. I’d like to find a resource other than Wikipedia for these facts, but the only other descriptions of any length I can find about Gansu come from the brutal and undemocratic Chinese Government.

Here is the English language web home of Gansu Province. There is no mention of the landslides on the web page even though it is all over the world press.

The landslides have been caused by the flooding of the Bailong River. Though unchecked development along this river may be the true cause.

So you can’t quite call it a natural disaster.

I’m sorry for the loss and suffering these folks in this region of China are experiencing.

The International Red Cross has nothing on the landslides at the moment.  As the situation goes on, maybe there will be information on how to donate and offer help.

(Below—The Labrang Monastery in the Gaanan Province. I don’t know much about the interior of China. I think I need to read up at least a bit on this big chunk of our world. We all have the ability to learn about any subject if we are willing to make the effort.)

August 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Heat Emergency Guidelines

File:Sun in X-Ray.png

Below are some heat emergency guidelines from FEMA.

Here is the complete infromation from FEMA on how to deal with extreme heat. 

(Above–The Sun. Here are facts about the sun)

It is very hot in Houston.

Maybe you live in the Houston-area or maybe it is very hot where you live.

While you may be able to handle the heat, be certain that you are taking the right steps.

Consider if anybody you know might need some help.  

The guidelines from FEMA—

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

June 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Galveston & Mayor White—After Hurricane Ike Post #2 From Downtown Houston Library

Some observations about Hurricane Ike and its impact on Houston and Galveston in the 31 minutes I have left on the computer at the Houston Downtown Public Library. Many people are at the terminals and others are waiting in line to use the computers.   

( Sorry for the absence of links here. Don’t have the time in this setting.)

The wife and I are now at five days without power since Ike. The wife and I and hundreds of thousands of others in and around Houston are without power. While I have little trust in the electric company,( or in the cable company or the phone company,) I do believe they are doing their best to restore power. In any case, the absence of power is a small burden in relation to the problems others have in Galveston and elsewhere.

It’s a small burden in relation to the problems people have around the world everyday.

It seems clear that officials in Galveston are over-matched by the task of letting folks back on the island to see their homes. The failure to order a mandatory evacuation in good time is an issue voters in Galveston can address later. For now, the Governor’s office or some wise man or wise woman should offer help to Galveston city officials to work this problem out. It felt yesterday that they were pretty much fending for themselves. They have so much work to do. They need some outside guidance.

I’m still waiting to pass a more solid judgement on FEMA. Though I don’t understand why the FEMA Director and the Homeland Security Secretary have not been here 24/7. Houston Mayor Bill White has clearly not been happy with some of FEMA’s early efforts. Though the Mayor has his own agenda of a statewide run in the next few years and his words and deeds must be viewed through the prism of his own ambitions. The Mayor surely does not want to be blamed for a poor hurricane response.

Houston and the Houston- area have so many poor people all the time. I guess it takes a disaster for their needs to be seen as meriting swift action. A disaster and the fact that many others have big problems at the same time. You can be certain that these folks will be forgotten again soon enough. It will take more than people volunteering to cut down a neighbor’s fallen tree limbs to give a more complete sense of community to this city.

It would be great to see so-called civic leaders and alleged community leaders and self-professed religious leaders call now for a kind of reconstruction of our city and its everyday acceptance of poverty and inequality. Just as we can we can rebuild structures, we can also change our minds and see a new and better city. 

Let’s also make sure we don’t forget the good folks in Beaumont, Orange, Bridge City and other places that took a hit from Ike. 

My time is running out. (In so many respects!) In the immediate sense my time is running out on this computer. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal and good luck.

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Galveston, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , | 2 Comments