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fullsizeoutput_381cA severe thunderstorm is sweeping past my adopted city of Houston, Texas. My Director of Operations and I exchanged a flurry of e-communications sharing our changing opinions of what to do. We were evaluating for over 24 hours what our decision should be on keeping operations going or to shut down our seminary for the safety of our students and staff.

Timing, forecasts, current computer models of the surging storm, and plenty of prayer are all ingredients necessary for a learned decision. We have students who travel long distances to make into classes and we want to notify them ASAP if they don’t have to risk a drive in this horrible weather.

The streets around the seminary are flooding quickly. The rains poured on our part of town so fast that the storm drains couldn’t keep up. Drivers are taking too many risks.

One car tried to pull out of the neighboring parking lot. When it got to the curb, all of us in our building kept saying, “Don’t do it! Go back! It’s too deep!” The water level reached the bottom of the car. Then, it rose up to the bottom of the door.

When the tires were almost totally immersed, it was too late. A full-size SUV went driving by. The wake hit the sedan and you could see the car lurch backwards. It was over for the car.

The hazard light went on, the headlights dimmed, and the driver waded out of his car and sloshed over to the sidewalk. We could all see the dejection on his face. Someone remarked quietly, “That was a nice car too.”

We have an emergency text message system for emergencies like this. We used it to let students know that the seminary was closed due to inclement weather. There wasn’t a single email of complaint.

Now, my whole team who was here for a full day’s work are going to staying until the water subsides enough to escape and scatter for home. Until then, they have gathered in the library and are watching a movie: The Incredibles.

I walked by and heard plenty of laughter.

As long as everyone is safe, we can deal with the closure, the make up day for classes, and the inconvenience of postponing important meetings. Everyone is safe. For that I am very grateful.

photo out of my office window with filters to remove as much reflection as possible

IMG_5813There is an amazing engineering feature in Houston.  It is called the Buffalo Bijou.  This is a creek for most of its existence, meandering from downtown Houston due West and into the region of Katy.

Katy is my home town and the Buffalo Bijou is familiar to me and my fellow residents.  We appreciate this cavernous grassy canyon snaking through our community because it is a constant reminder that it is ready to take away the deluge of water that visits our part of Texas several times a year.

When there is no rain and the weather has no prediction of precipitation, I along with my fellow Texans overlook this massive amount of real estate.  Green grass lines the banks of this very large creek and overpasses allow traffic to flow unimpeded.  But, it is always ready.

Most of the year a small creek travels through this piece of land.  The slow-moving waters do not cut much of a trail through the dirt.  Most adults could easily leap over the creek without much effort.

I bicycle along this body of water and marvel at its great expanse.  For miles my bicycle wheels roll along the cement trail that lines one of its banks.  Several times I cross a bridge to keep my journey going.

But, then there are those storms, those Texas-sized storms that drench our home with lots of water.  Drains, and canals flow into the Buffalo Bijou.  It comes quickly and flash flood warnings dominate the airwaves to keep people away from flooded areas.

Torrents of water turn a normally calm creek bed into a raging river.  In a short period of time a calm quiet creek fills up that entire flood plain and muddy waters threaten to lap against the massive concrete bridges that gives people safe passage over the rising waters.  I paused for a picture and to marvel at what makes people feel so small and helpless.

When God turns on the spillway of the heavens and stalls the weather front to hold a pattern over Houston, we hunker down and hope for the best.  Neighbor encourages neighbor.  It is the way of the image of God seeping through the desperation of men who find themselves in need of a helping hand.

Good engineers designed a lot of Houston to weather such moments.  I am grateful to those very good planners who looked beyond the pleasant sunny days.  Their planning for these occasional horribly rainy days has given me peace.  I thank God for them!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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