Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A local tragedy

There's a story in today's local news of a elderly man who apparently lived alone, and his body was discovered, dead after an indeterminate amount of time. Early estimates are that he died around the time that Hurricane Rita struck SE Texas, at the end of September 2005. His body was found in his hurricane-damaged home this week. Neighbors thought he had evacuated, like everyone else, and just never came back to town, the house abandoned all this time. It was only discovered because someone interested in paying the back taxes and buying the house was peeking into the windows, and saw the skeleton laying in bed, like something out of Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. Part of me wonders if a few more like this are waiting out there, like the buried cities of Pompei and Herculanium.

Certainly, if one drives around Beaumont, one will see more than a few houses still with blue tarps over the roofs or with unrepaired damage. There's at least two in my mom's neighborhood that are damaged from trees falling on them, unoccupied, unlivable, and she lives in a nice section of town. In the end of town where I live, it seems like one in three houses still have tarps or are empty. Generally, the tarped ones are occupied, altho as I live in one of those, I have to question the quality of the interior. Our roof leaks every time it rains. It was first noticed Memorial Day weekend last year, when we got a deluge, and the ceiling tiles in the kitchen and living room started caving in at 2 AM! One side of the roof looks like black Swiss cheese, from the holes showing the plywood sheets and old shingles underneath. Our next-door neighbors have the same problem, altho their roof shows the very old wood shingles under the top coat of (I think) asbestos slates. The previous neighbors had moved out, after complaining to our landlady of the leaks, making their front bedroom absolutely unusable. This didn't stop the landlady from renting to someone new before permanent repairs were made. However, the landlady did find the funds to hire a roofing crew to re-roof (not just replace the shingles) the adjacent building that is used as storage for a snack food vending company. That was sometime about the middle of last year. Since then, the landlady's husband has found time, and sheet metal, in the last month to cover the open-front gaping garage-apartment between the next-door house and ours, and he promises to do something about our roof soon. *Sigh* I'll believe that when it happens. I'm thinking between the age of this house, the damned Formosan termites, and the hurricane damage, the landlady ought to just burn 'em all down and rebuild something new, but that's not quite how slum lords work, is it?

Oh, well, as long as we can look forward to moving out of this dump and into Ganny and PawPaw's old house, I think we can keep it together for a little bit longer. My wife's grandparent's died in '04, and the In-Laws are fixing up (with our mostly unskilled help) the grandparent's old house so we can move into it. That project's been put on hold a few times, especially right after the hurricane, but the end is in sight. We only need to paint the living room, finish the floor in the living room and bedroom. It's been too cold for painting and laying tiles, tho, this last month. This warm spell right now should allow us to get some more work done.

In other news, I realise this is my first post since joining the Texas State Guard. I haven't commented about it here simply because I don't know how much I can say freely about it. Those with military experience might recall a little phrase called operational security. "Loose lips sink ships," "Have a nice big cup of shut the fuck up!"and the like. Sooooo... I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not know stuff. *snort* That sounds like one of the intro scenes from a fav computer game of ours, The X- Fools, "Government denies knowing stuff." Sounds about right. And I'm still adjusting to feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, while keeping my shit together. I'm getting used to it.


Blogger BobG said...

Keep us posted on your experiences with the Guard, at least what is legal to post. Good luck.

12:35 PM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger Mattexian said...

I think I can get away with mentioning this, about how it's a small world, and you run into folks you already know. One of the sargeants is the husband of one of my Cub Scout Den Mothers, and one of the Privates is the grandson of a fellow volunteer who I rode with to work on the Tall Ship Elissa.

4:42 PM, February 19, 2007  
Blogger Hammer said...

Congrats on joining the state guard and I can't wait to hear more about it.

Hope you get in your house soon.

8:23 AM, February 22, 2007  

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