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MARY MEAUX — Hurricanes: Remember the past and prepare for the future

In some ways it’s hard to imagine that at this time three years ago Port Arthurans and others from surrounding areas were just getting out of our homes — for those of us that weren’t rescued by boat or helicopter — and seeking aid after Hurricane Harvey.

We experienced historic flooding that broke records for the more than 60 inches of rain dumped on the area as the tropical system stalled in 2017.

I was reminded of this when I came across a photo. I rarely, if ever, ask a celebrity/famous person to be in a photo with me, but considering all of this was historic, why not?

There I was standing between Houston rapper Trae Tha Truth and Houston mixed martial artist/Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor Derrick Lewis outside First Sixth Street Baptist Church on the West Side of Port Arthur.

The day was extremely hot and humid, typical in the aftermath of a hurricane, but these men came to town in a high profile truck capable of making their way through some still flooded areas. They teamed up with the Rev. Kalan Gardner, Jefferson County Constable Precinct 2 Chris Bates and Port Arthur Independent School District Trustee Brandon Bartie.

Trae and Lewis brought a truckload of supplies collected from across the state and country, and those were combined with donations that Amber Lucas of Linda’s Lighthouse orchestrated.

This outreach helped hundreds, if not more residents.

Many others came to the area to help in our time of need, gutting homes where at least 4 feet of sheetrock had to be removed due to the flooding, and much more.

Fast-forward to a week ago and Southeast Texas was staring down a storm that had the potential to strike as a Category 5. That’s when I became scared.

I remembered 2005’s Hurricane Rita, which was mainly a wind event that we evacuated for. Then 2008’s Hurricane Ike, a Category 2 storm with the storm surge of a Category 4 — with a 22-foot storm surge in Sabine Pass. We evacuated for Ike as well, especially with the fact that the levee could have failed and filled the area like a bowl.

Then along came Hurricane Laura last week.

The strong hurricane struck as a Category 4 near Cameron, Louisiana, laying waste to much in our neighboring state, as well as wreaking havoc to areas on the Texas/Louisiana border.

I’m not too sure of how hard South and Mid-County was hit. I know many were without power and lost food in their fridge. Some dealt with the costs of evacuating. Others had damage to their homes.

It’s the price we pay to live on the Gulf.

The hurricane season is still ongoing with Tropical Storm Nana set to move into Belize and Tropical Storm Omar floating around well away from the U.S.

In addition, an area of low pressure is about midway between the Windward Islands and West Africa and has a low chance of tropical storm formation in the next five days. A tropical wave just off the coast of West Africa has a medium chance of tropical storm formation in the next five days.

We must remain vigilant.

 

Mary Meaux is a reporter with Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at 721-2429 or at mary.meaux@panews.com.