For most of us, “Dolly” appeared quite suddenly as a tropical storm crossing the Yucatán peninsula over the weekend of July 19-20, 2008. She was moving rapidly into the Gulf as a ragged, poorly organized system that was expected to make landfall by Wednesday 23rd as a strong Category 1 hurricane at most, follow the Rio Grande River up the border of Texas-Mexico, dump 6-12 inches of rain along her path, and be gone in a day.
But as these things are prone to do, “Dolly” hung around over the warm waters of the Gulf, slowing down and organizing into a system large enough to torture the lower coast and Rio Grande Valley for 2 days after making landfall as a weak Category 2 hurricane, with its eye about 30 miles north of Brownsville, Texas. At the end of the week, she was still flooding west Texas and New Mexico, refusing to break up and go away.
Some of us on higher ground were fortunate. Sandbagged and boarded up, stocked with water and non-perishable food, we endured a day and night of lashing wind and rain. All of us in my area lost Cable TV and Internet; and many lost electrical power for at least 12 hours. Some lost large tree branches, roof shingles, and parts of their fences. At our house, we had standing water in the backyard, many 4-ft. branches down from our tall Norfolk Pines, and the ground was littered with small twigs from our 80-ft. oak. We found one shingle on the ground, and a large limb from my daughter’s 12-ft. Schefflera, but no other damage. We never lost electrical power and my DSL Internet stayed connected.
In other areas, the power is still off and the water is 2-3 ft. deep. The State of Texas was well-prepared, as almost everyone knows who has been watching the news or listening to the radio, and FEMA appeared as soon as it knew what was needed and where. The crews are still out working day and night to restore power, pump out flooded areas, and provide food, water, and other essentials to those who could not stay in their homes, or now cannot leave. We had 24/7 coverage on Radio KURV until midnight of the 24th, although they were sitting in the dark, generating only enough power to run their monitors and transmit until their power was restored sometime Friday morning. One reporter had brought his dog with him, not wanting to leave him alone at home! 😉
We and our friends are tired, physically and emotionally, but grateful and relieved that it was not worse than it was for us. We know, however, that for many, especially the younger families, it is the worst thing that has ever happened to them as far back as they can remember. It has been two decades since the Valley was hit by “Allen,” and we hope “Dolly” is the first and last to visit us for a long time to come.
Here are a couple of pictures of my neighborhood: