LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

The last bobcat I saw outside our gate was run over, riddled with bullets and flat as a flitter.

Driving back from town where we had been picking up stacks of literature on faucets, sinks, toilets, bidets and bathtubs from various plumbing supply houses around town, Buck and I saw that our gate was blocked by a mechanical bobcat. The driver was downshifting like a NASCAR racer, picking up piles of broken trees and stacking them to one side. He noticed we weren’t continuing on around the sharp curve in the road, but had stopped to turn in, so he backed out of the way and idled. We pulled in. I opened the gate while Buck went to talk with the driver.

About that time a flatbed truck with high sides built out of plywood came flying around the curve, found a smooth place near the big pile of debris and angled in. The woman behind the wheel filled up the driver’s side, bright yellow curly hair bouncing as she manhandled that truck around. A Jack Russell terrier jumped all around on the passenger side.

Clem, Sarah and their dog Nogales had driven in from Texas right after Hurricane Ivan. They work for the Federal Emergency management Agency (FEMA) as part of the debris cleanup team.

We thanked them, then Clem said, “Well, we best get on with it. The afternoon’s runnin’.”

At last count, there are more than 49,000 “blue roofs” (tarpaulins) on homes in Escambia (Pensacola) and Santa Rosa (Ft. Walton) counties. A staggering amount of roadside debris has been picked up, but there is still a lot left, especially on the back roads. If Clem and Sarah stay with FEMA, they won’t see Texas until sometime next year.

 

 

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