Texas Liberal

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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

Five Years Since Terrible Indian Ocean Tsunami—People Are Recovering

It has been nearly five years since the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami killed at least 200,000 people in Asian-Pacific nations. There were deaths in Africa as well.

The tsunami took place on December 26, 2004.

(Above—The 2004 tsunami on the move in Ao Nang, Thailand.)

Here is an explanation of what causes tsunamis and how they do their damage.

In early 2005, National Geographic.com said the following about this tsunami—

“The earthquake that generated the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 is estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey”

Here is the link to the BBC special report on the tsunami. Article featured here discuss the impact of the tsunami all the up to 2008.

Here is a country-by-country report on the loss of life. More than 130,000 people were killed in Indonesia and at least 31,000 dies in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the dead, many people lost their homes in this disaster.

Habitat for Humanity has been active in helping people rebuild.

Reuters reports that many in Thailand are still suffering today from the tsunami.

From the Reuters article—

“Ban Nam Khem, a small fishing village on Thailand’s Andaman Sea coast, lost nearly half its 5,000 people. Today it is a shell of its former self despite an outpouring of aid in one of the largest foreign fund-raising exercises in history…Its once-thriving center of dense waterfront stores, restaurants and wooden homes is gone, replaced with souvenir shops, a wave-shaped monument and a small building filled with photographs of the tsunami recovery effort….”So many people here are still looking for their family,” said Suvadee, a slight, 43-year-old woman with an easy smile and weathered hands that clutched worn photographs of her son.”

The Voice of America reports on how life has improved since the disaster struck for many who survived the tsunami.

Rarely are we so down-and-out that some improvement in our condition is not possible.

In the United States, the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration has been bolstering tsunami early-warning systems.

From NOAA–

In December 2004, lack of an effective international warning system contributed to unprecedented loss of life when a tsunami devastated countless communities around the Indian Ocean and stunned the rest of the world. Through NOAA, the United States accelerated preparation for a potential tsunami along the U.S. coastline and efforts to build partnerships for an international warning program. According to NOAA tsunami experts, the key to surviving a destructive tsunami is people’s ability to receive warnings and willingness to act quickly to move inland or to higher ground.”

I am glad that in addition to making U.S. coastal areas more secure, that we have working to help other nations deal with the threat of tidal waves.

Terrible disasters in the world come and go and we forget about them once they are out of the news.

It is easy to forget. I’m guilty of forgetting myself.

If we forget, we will lose sight of the things we can do in the future to save lives as detailed by NOAA as they prepare for the next tsunami.

If we forget, we will lose sight of the fact that things can get better even after they have been as bad as it possibly seemed they could get.

(Below–Folks in-front of a Habitat for Humanity built home in the tsunami zone in Indonesia.)

December 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment