Tropical Storm Gordon came upon us quickly and, just as quickly, seemed to peter out as it came ashore along the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast.
May every storm be this kind to us.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not wishing that anything would go the way of our neighbors to the east. Or the west, for that matter. But if every storm that could become a hurricane ends up maxing out at 70 mph and meandering up the middle part of the country, we will all breathe a little easier.
This is hurricane season, after all, and we have to keep our eyes peeled for danger hovering over the water. We’ve seen many times in the past that storms don’t even have to be direct hits to inflict widespread flooding and misery on our region.
The water is rising, the ground is sinking, and our natural defenses have been depleted by oilfield-assisted coastal erosion and damage from storms in the past. All of which combines to put us perilously close to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and in harm’s way when a storm approaches.
This one, this Gordon fellow, seems to have thought better of it. Thankfully, he never fully developed the sort of dangerous winds or rain or storm surge that can deliver real trouble across the Gulf Coast.
Still, we are but a week into September, leaving us with plenty of storm season to go before we can relax and wait for next year’s hurricane season.
We have been lucky, extremely lucky, for the past several years. The storms that have developed have veered away from us. And those that have come this way haven’t amounted to much.
But, as we all know, that is no reason to believe the next one will do any such thing.
We live in the Deep South. And we live along a coast that is known for getting hit regularly by hurricanes. We cannot afford to ignore the danger or pretend that we’re safe from Mother Nature.
That’s no reason to panic, of course. That doesn’t do anyone any good. It is, though, reason to remain vigilant, particularly during storm season.
We have pretty much been left to our own devices. The federal government seems more intent on bureaucratic delay than on flood protection. Our biggest protection project – the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee system – has gotten the runaround, to say the least, from the feds.
Over decades of work and design and planning and permitting, it has ended up being a local project that local and state taxpayers are supporting. It can offer some protection under that scenario, but it won’t amount to anything close to what it should be without the federal government getting onboard and helping our region protect itself. Unfortunately, delay and obstruction have been the norm to this point.
We love our little corner of the world. And we want to stay here. Morganza isn’t going to protect everyone, even if it is built at full scale with a reasonable commitment of assistance from the feds. But it will represent some protection for a region that desperately needs it.
We don’t want to move north, or east or west to get away from flood dangers. We want to stay at home and continue enjoying the plentiful blessings that come with this place.
So every time a Gordon or any other storm goes somewhere else, it gives us a bit of a reprieve – reminding us how vulnerable we are while giving us a stroke of luck in the short term.
This one could have hit us hard. And the next one can too. We have to remember that, and we have to fight for the kind of protection that will shield us just a bit from future storms. And we have to keep our fingers crossed that we enjoy years more of good luck in the meantime.
-- Editorial Page Editor Michael Gorman can be reached at 448-7612 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mikegormanla.