Well, I don’t know what to start with today. The News isn’t all that terribly grabbing and I used up all my booshwah over the weekend. But, the rain’s back so Otis is upset we can’t take our constitutional, so let’s knock this out.
Speaking of the rain, save a thought for the poor folks in and around Jackson, MS, because the water is still rising on them. The Pearl River, which is the lifeblood of the town and area, is expected to crest at 37.5 feet, the highest in the 30 years and the third highest on record. More’s coming, not just from another round of projected heavy rain for the Southeast but also because the Ross Barnett Reservoir, the state’s largest repository of drinkable water, let loose its overflow to the Pearl.
The town’s already good and flooded, with people gathering what they can carry and heading to higher ground before it gets worse. And it will get worse. In probably his first big problem that’s all his – and bless his soul, it’s a probably as big as a Mississippi governor has had to handle since Katrina – newly elected Governor Tate Reeves has announced a state of emergency for the foreseeable future. State and local officials are providing sandbags and fresh water, as well as rescuing folks who were caught by the fast-rising river.
One thing living in New Orleans taught me is that when the weather decides to slap you in the face with its member, all the preparation in the world can be spoiled before you can turn around. The best you can do once the skies get dark and the winds blow menacingly is get into a runner’s crouch and be ready to jump. You don’t know when and you won’t know how fierce, but you’ll know it’s time to go.
The worst storm I rode out while I was there was Issac in 2012, and it was an interesting experience. I rode out hurricanes when I lived in Florida, but because of where Gainesville was located and a trick of weather, most of them just blew right over. It’s a big difference than when one is coming right at you and intends to sit on your face. The parishes on the other side of the old Pontchartrain got the worst of it, as Issac blew over us and settled in over them. They weren’t prepared for the damage because, well, that’s generally not how hurricanes work in that area.
It’s a brave new world when it comes to weather, though, and accumulated global climate change is having an effect. The deforestation of the Amazon, the fires in Australia, and the increasingly fierce snow and rain storms battering Britain are just the start of it. I won’t brook any argument about climate change’s existence nor will I listen to already debunked arguments that we haven’t had an effect on it. I can appreciate the young people trying to do something to save themselves, but I’m not as hopeful. We had our chance 20 years ago and, in an early form of “owning the libs”, punted the ball for a mess of pottage.
Anyhow. Though I’ve never held much affection for the town – not like Memphis or even Birmingham – I do have deep roots in Jackson. My father grew up there and would tell me stories of him running numbers for the organized crime concerns that still existed at the time from pool halls as well as famous night spots like the Brown Derby. Daddy was a bit of a wild boy before he joined the Marines. When the FBI smashed the Mafia in the U.S., one of the deepest destroyed were family arms in the South, places like Jackson or New Orleans as well as Biloxi or Mobile. I’ve heard it compare to a kid jumping into a mud puddle, emptying out the main spot but flinging dirty water every-which-a-ways.
My grandfather lived there, as well, and I think the last time I was there was for his funeral in 2005. Most of Daddy’s family live in the area, between there and Meridian and McGee, and I still have significantly older cousins and a favorite aunt that calls the City of Soul home. One of my baby cousins on Momma’s side lives near there with her family, as does my lawdog second cousin and his wife.
But, like I said, I’ve never really cared for it. By the time I had done any visiting, it was brown and grey and in the process of being stripped clean by crooked state government and apathetic city government. I always said I’d go and visit Poppaw and maybe take a look at what the town’s become, but I never did. To my shame, I didn’t do nearly enough before that sweet old man went the way of all flesh, and I’ll probably never see those paternal cousins until another funeral, but that is life.
Maybe if I ever do my trip back to Gainesville I’ll try to swing through Jackson to take a look. Maybe not. In any event, I hope all my cousins there – whether by blood or merely by dint of being from this goddamn state – stay safe and dry, and that the damage to homes and livelihoods are as light as possible.