Monday, August 27, 2012

Waiting in the Rain

Sitting inside on a rainy day. Tropical Storm Isaac is heading through the Gulf towards New Orleans and is expected to hit on Wednesday, the 7th anniversary of Katrina. Unlike 7 years ago, I'm not anxiously watching the impending annihilation of a city. They're not expecting a huge storm this time. My friends who live there are sheltering in their homes. Of course, predictions could be wrong and we'll be sorry later. The flooding from even a mild tropical storm can be bad if it sits in one place long enough. The Florida Panhandle is still recovering from tropical storm Debbie that came through in the end of June. The rain from Isaac will surely bring misery to them again this week. It's hard to imagine that at the beginning of June we were facing drought conditions unlike anything I'd seen in 15 years of living in Florida. The area lakes were drying up. I stood on the lake bed at Newnan's lake and looked at the cracking mud and peat. Of course, I got some great pictures. Birds were congregating around the smallest water holes, and the low water levels meant I could walk around the shores of the lake where there were only swamps and marshes in the past. The springs were running so low you could hardly get a canoe down some of the rivers. Our yard was shriveling. Even the trees were sad. Wildfires were spreading like, well, like wildfire. And here we are now, lakes and rivers full, green plants thriving, and roads under water.  It makes the whole issue of conservation and climate change hard to discuss. During the drought, people were saying that the dry times were part of a cycle and that things would come back again, "just you wait and see". And it would appear that they are right this time. But water experts point out that what we see in the lakes and rivers, and the rain is only surface water, much of which will run off into the ocean. We're not recharging the aquifers at the same rate that we're drawing from them.  We're just coming out of the hottest summer on record and if the rains hadn't come this year, we'd be in huge trouble in Florida. But now that the storms are here again, we seem to have dodged the bullet. How do you convince people that it's important to conserve when everything looks ok?

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