From approximately February 17 through March 10, 2017, several states within the High Plains region of the US were hit severely with out-of-control wildfires where dry grasses and fallen, winter deadwood from trees badly damaged by a January ice storm equally contributed to this destructive melee propelled by high-velocity pre-spring winds and wind gusts. Parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Texas (mostly the northern panhandle region) were affected by these disasters. Nobody has stated that arson was a suspected cause – just the low humidity of the region coupled with dry conditions throughout the fall and winter in an area where susceptible vegetation (which quickly desiccates) had grown in abundance at previous times of much heavier rainfalls. The worst of the fires began and climaxed March 6-9, 2017; since that time, there have only been a few isolated fires which local fire departments have responded to successfully, mostly in Northwestern Oklahoma.
Living in the area, I posted a blog several weeks ago about what it was like living (while responding to our own family emergencies) in the midst of this devastation. Now, it seems like it is a good time to write an update for those who read my blog then. I wanted to do this sooner, but I’ve had personal computer problems that we refer to as the “Texas Panhandle Technology Trapezoid”. It is like the Bermuda Triangle off the East Coast of the US and Bahamas where airplanes and ships disappeared in the past. But instead of devouring transportation machines, it affects our electronic devices and internet connections to where they don’t want to function. (And, it is nearly impossible to find anyone to repair these problems!)
The whole frustrating process has made writing much harder than it should be. Between power connection linkage problems and the PC responding much slower than my brain while writing and typing, some of my recent blogs had some “editorial issues” despite multiple attempts to proofread and correct these problems. Not that the PC problems are solved, but for the first time in two weeks, the PC’s battery is fully charged, which makes creating this blog post possible. I apologize for any errors I made which were distracting from the main points and thus annoyed any readers!
At the end of the previous blog post on this subject, I asked for prayers from all People of the Book for our area, and it appears the Lord has heard our petitions. (Bless His Holy Name Forevermore!) Every week since the fires peaked, the area has gotten long, slow, light rains at least one to two days per week, which was desperately needed. Yet, this kind of rainfall pattern rarely happens at this time of the year. The areas over in Texas which appeared like scorched earth battlegrounds after intensive military fighting or vast lava fields from an explosive volcanic eruption are recovering. Since the rains have been light, there has been very little flooding or loss of topsoil due to run-off erosion (except by some of the railroad tracks where materials were brought in to engineer and build up a stable grade for the tracks). Within a couple of weeks, beautiful light-green grasses popped out of the blackened grounds like nothing happened. Now the pastures that were destroyed are becoming lush again and are starting to look like golf-courses in their fully-groomed beauty. (In fact, these pastures look better than our little town’s 9-hole golf-course!) The only remnants which speak of the fires are the charred upright twigs from destroyed sagebrush.
Higgins, Texas, which is on the Texas-Oklahoma border, had been threatened with the fires consuming just south and west of town. People in that town did one of two things at that time – they either got out with the fire departments and their rancher friends to work to put out the fires, or they went to church to pray for the Lord to spare their town. Both efforts worked extremely well, and we even heard on national news that Higgins was spared when the town was most likely to be consumed in flames. Afterward, a church marquee which usually announces the service times said it all – “Thank-you G_d and First Responders for saving our town”. To many people who were not directly affected, this seems to be the general prevailing attitude of many; so I would like to thank all of the JPost blog readers who prayed for our region after the fires.
We hear reports of ranchers burying their cattle which were killed in the rapidly-moving conflagrations. However, blackened, dead cattle can still be seen, especially along the fences by the major roads. Like the tree damage the community sustained in a solitary but devastating winter ice-storm last January, taking care of these loose ends takes time and people are doing their best to clean-up in the aftermath.