Captain Dickie Colburn – For The Record

It wasn’t until we unpacked the computer that I realized that I had failed to send in my column last week.It got packed up and moved to higher ground along with other items that my wife deemed irreplaceable when the emergency center declared a mandatory evacuation for our area.

When I hooked it back up, the amount of unread emails was endless. Many of them were from folks asking why my column wasn’t in the paper, but the majority of them were from clients and friends as far away as Midland wanting to know if they could help us in anyway.

Those emails were reflective of what was taking place right here in Orange. It was surreal in that it was business as usual under beautiful skies for eighty percent of the county and a stressful nightmare for the other twenty percent.Even for those that did not get water in their homes, it was three days and nights of sandbagging, elevating furniture and valuable items and watching the river creep ever closer from a new direction for Deweyville and Orange residents residing on the east side of Hwy. 87.

If you were spared any flooding I suppose you can live with it being termed by government agencies as a severe weather event, but if you had six inches to six feet of water in your house, it was a catastrophic event. Here we are a week later and there is still too much standing water to even assess the damage to many homes.What is not catastrophic about that?

While standing in line at the H.E.B. store waiting to purchase cleaning items for Deweyville residents Tuesday morning I overheard a shopper state, “This is really just more of a big inconvenience than anything else. I live on the other side of I-10 and just because of a hundred feet of flooding under the overpass on 16^th street I have to drive ten extra miles to get here.”

It was also a bit of an inconvenience for those cross country truckers forced to make a U-turn at Hwy. 62 and drive all the way to Longview to cross the river after unexpectedly finding I-10 blocked due to high water. I doubt that many of them drove the additional three to four hours humming Kumbaya and thinking, “Dang…this is a bit inconvenient!”

True enough, this was no Hurricane Ike, but it was obvious that area folks that suffered the most as a result of Ike did not forget about the support from their friends and neighbors in digging their way out. After initially thinking that we were filling and hauling sandbags only to help out friends in Deweyville and West Bluff, my grandson, Andrew, and I suddenly found ourselves doing the same thing for my home.

Over that two day period, we filled sandbags at three different locations north of I-10 as well as the Public boat ramp on Simmons Drive and in every single instance there were entire families from Bridge City and non-threatened portions of Orange helping others. Even after filling their own bags, many of those individuals would stick around and help new arrivals fill theirs.

I know any number of feel good stories were generated around these piles of sand, but easily the best for me was provided by two widowed ladies in their early seventies that showed up both behind the Armory on Meeks and at the Public Boat Ramp to lend a helping hand.

Unable to even lift a bag of sand or shovel, they would open bags and tie them up for folks that were working alone and they spent several hours each day at both locations. They said that they had survived every hurricane including Audrey as youngsters and have never once considered moving because of the friendly people in this area. While it was tiring work, even for Andrew, it made you especially proud to call Orange County home!

The bulk of the actual clean-up work has yet to even begin in Deweyville and they will need help to fully recover.When it comes to “hands on” help there is a fine line that separates help and being in the way, but any donations certainly help the cause. There are several collection sites in Orange.

The Orange Jazz Company tournament scheduled for this weekend has been postponed.