Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita Watch: D-Day, before dawn

We preside over a ghost town.

After midnight last night, I drove through the city's west side neighborhoods, to sweep through my house one last time, to find a safe spot for a few last, probably inconsequential things. The city-scape is barren. Distant headlights down boulevards and back streets dart like the illuminated eyes of nervous rats, too far away and too fleeting to offer any comfort that we are in this together. Each of us is, truly, on his own.

We know humans have clustered together in small groups and hidden spaces, hunkered down for what's coming. We know a few civilians have postponed their evacuation until today, in hopes traffic congestion will have eased. We know some won't leave. We know some first-responders -- mainly police and firefighters -- will ride out the storm aboard a ship in the Port of Beaumont. We know there are people in some local hotels, many of them reporters from as far away as the Los Angeles Times. We know that later today, after the sun has risen and set, some will seek sanctuary here. But none display themselves casually within the city now.

We see reports of people handing out water and gasoline along the evacuation routes. We also get tiny glimpses from the road: 10 hours to go 20 miles; women holding bedsheets at the roadside so desperate other women can get out of nearly-stalled traffic to relieve themselves semi-privately in front of hundreds of motorists; anxiety crackling over cellphones over how far will be far enough. We also heard stories -- maybe apocryphal -- of people traveling down back roads for hours only to be turned around and sent back.

We sent a handful of editors to Houston late last night. They'll not only provide support from the shelter of the Houston Chronicle, their evacuation reduces the number of our people here who must face the storm eye-to-eye. For me, that's a comfort.

The sun will rise in the next hour or so. Rita's vanguard -- bands of rain and squalls spinning ahead -- haven't begun, but they're coming. A fellow editor went for a pre-dawn jog, maybe the last chance he'll get to stretch his legs for a few days. We've begun stashing some food, bedding and other necessaries deep within our own building, away from windows and above the wildest flood stage, where we'll likely spend tonight. Right now, Rita is expected to make landfall around the small coastal town of High Island then rumble north over us. At this time tomorrow morning, we expect to be under fire from Rita. When we can safely venture out to see what she wrought, I don't know, but it will be as soon as we feel we can do it safely.

Before Rita, our Features staff had planned a story for today about what appears to be an unusually busy hummingbird migration across Southeast Texas. Earlier this week, a reporter and photographer went to visit one birdlover's small farm, where literally dozens of hummingbirds had been coming and going all the time. When they arrived, the lady apologized that their numbers had mysteriously dwindled. So the reporter called a Texas expert on hummingbirds, and he wasn't surprised.

Even hummingbirds, he said in so many words, are smart enough to flee ahead of a hurricane.


Marie said...

Please keep us informed on the well being of your staff as you hear from them. In particular, I am interested in knowing how Mark Hancock rides the storm. Please know that there are many folks out here that consider themselves more than just your fair-weathered friends. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Ron.
Check in when you can and let us know you're ok.

Shawn Cowper

Krista said...

Ron- I hope you are ok...Know you are in my thoughts

Krista../ Junky

Anonymous said...

Everyone has days when they are down, worn out, coping with anxiety and just not feeling all that happy.

That's OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

Even though you know that sadness (coping with anxiety) is a part of life, let's try to make it a small part of life.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like "I feel good", "Positive energy flows through my body", "I see the good in all".

4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for "Meditation music" on Google or Yahoo and explore.

Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don't just use them when you are sad or coping with anxiety . Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can't seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don't take any chances. coping with anxiety