Just when folks were finally able to get back into their Hurricane Harvey damaged homes, the bottom fell out and along came a Tropical Storm named Imelda. The upper Gulf Coast got it again; the region was flooded from torrential rains that hovered over southeast Texas, causing extensive flooding and damage.
You don’t have to dig too deeply into your memory to recall the infamous Imelda Marcos, wife and First Lady to the former Philippine President Juan Marcos. Imelda, who is now 90 years old, along with her husband the Filipino politician and kleptocrat, are alleged to have amassed a “salted” fortune worth billions of dollars (perhaps $5 to $10 billion, according to some estimates) through a long regime of corruption, scandal, abuse, and pilfering. Eventually the brutal Juan was removed from office (upon receiving a message from Ronald Reagan to “…cut and cut completely…”) and fled to Hawaii where he died in 1989. Imelda, along with her infamous legacy and “missing” billions still resides in Hawaii. Over the years, Imelda has made a few requests for “assistance” from anyone who would listen, claiming to be completely broke.
Perhaps her greatest legacy, other than corruption, is the fact that over the years Imelda’s collection of shoes numbered in the thousands. It was her shoes she most treasured, and she wanted to keep them all. Makes one wonder if ol’ Juan had a shoe fetish! Regardless, Imelda has been linked to excessiveness and over-doing, in fact, to the point of a slang word being created: “Imeldific.”
What a legacy. Given her history and love of footwear, it is fairly safe to assume the once First Lady is probably still collecting and hoarding volumes of high-end shoes among the palms of Hawaii.
Then came the storm! People along the upper Texas Gulf Coast are used to late fall storms and even a hurricane or two, but no one anticipated the mess that was coming and with the name Imelda. Instead of shoes, this gal brought water — trillions of gallons of it. With some areas getting over 40 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, southeast Texas was again pummeled, and hard.
The beginning of the rains stirred flashbacks of Hurricane Harvey. As flooding began, fears, and nightmares from two years ago came to call. Tropical Storm Imelda danced around on the maps and mostly over the Houston-Beaumont area dumped more water in day than Harvey did in several. With so much development and lack of a draining basin, the waters rose quickly, did their damage, and began to recede the next day. After more than a year of rebuilding, fighting with insurance companies and contractors, a switch was flicked and it all started again. So much progress was flushed out in a matter of hours.
As usual, there has been an outpouring of “thoughts and prayers” but time has proven these do little to stop rain or bullets, to dry houses, or to make bad things go away. Once again the spirit and resiliency of Gulf Coast dwellers is being tested and called upon.
One begins to wonder just how much of this scenario can people take before something gives. The folks living in coastal Florida have grown used to such events due to the frequency, but even many of them have sold and moved to higher ground. Officials look for fixes, but are unable to stop rain and stormy weather; hands are tied. The powers that be are looking for ways to improve drainage and mitigate some of the damage, but no real answers seem to be even close, let alone possible.
It is with a feeling of guilt that I report the “Island by Texas” fared very well with Tropical Storm Imelda. There was the usual high water in areas that seem to always flood and sand bags were deployed to stop water from entering stores and shops in the downtown Strand area. Broadway, already the subject of high cost drainage projects, flooded and stalled cars. Harborside became the usual lake with waves lapping at trains and storage facilities.
Locals got out their kayaks, canoes, and floaties to take advantage of the high water. As messy as it was, Galvestonians did their best to make if a party and find some smiles in the deluge. A few bars had drink specials and even watering holes along the Strand and Post Office remained opened for patrons to sit “water side” and imbibe. Other than a major inconvenience and expense for some, Imelda did little damage to the tough little island. Friends and family in other places did not fare as well and many Galvestonians are pitching-in and helping in many ways. Seems it always takes the worst to bring out the best!
Fall is coming and maybe the season will change. Beloved Galveston pal and meteorologist Frank Billingsley assures us that cooler weather will eventually arrive and perhaps sooner than we think. Once again the Island will come alive for Halloween festivities and, of course, the annual Dickens on the Strand in December. (It is not too early to start planning your costumes and events).
Southeast Texas has had a setback and we have seen them in the past. Things will dry out and life, for the most part, will get back to normal (whatever that is). Galveston hearts go out to our friends and neighbors that got it much worse than Island residents. As we move forward and put Imelda behind us, be kind to one another and share love and happiness. Most of all, be thankful and be safe. In the end, Imelda’s shoes might have been a little easier to take