Having lived in Corpus Christi my entire life, I am very familiar with the concept of being at Mother Nature's mercy.
I have seen everything from birthdays to holiday celebrations ruined because the massive floodgates in the sky decided to open up and release their bounty upon the ground below. And how many of us have had a beautiful plate of barbecue just tossed aside by the all-to-familiar South Texas wind gusts?
But I got my first taste of just how helpless Mother Nature can make anyone feel a few years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. My mother and her husband, along with my older brother and two younger sisters, had recently moved to a town just outside of the Big Easy.
After the storm hit, I was left without much information about my loved ones, much like many others with family or friends caught in the storm. Even more unsettling was the fact that one of my younger sisters was due to give birth anytime to her first child.
I eventually was able to reach my mother, and was informed that my sister had given birth to a healthy baby boy.
And no, even the name she gave him had nothing to do with the storm in which he was born, which is something I have been asked on more than one occassion.
But even with that happy moment, the situation still had not resolved itself in my eyes. I was still hundreds of miles away and all-out chaos had broken out due to governmental ineptitude and a complete lack of food and supplies for those affected by the storm.
Now, as I write this, I find myself in the same situation - one that I never thought I would have to deal with.
Hurricane Gustav has completed its sprint across the Gulf of Mexico on a path toward Louisiana, which is still in the recovery process from Katrina's wrath. This time around, my family was splintered across three different states and two different parts of Louisiana.
One of my sisters, now married, took my nephew, who is approaching the magical age of three, to Oklahoma as part of their evacuation, while my older brother had already relocated to Washington weeks before the storm hit.
My anxiety came from having my younger sister stay in New Orleans during the storm, because of her desire to take care of patients at the hospital she works at.
My mother and her husband evacuated their home outside of New Orleans and left with her employer to Baton Rouge. The fact that the storm's trajectory was subject to change at any time made this move all the more stressful. By Sunday, it was nearly impossible to reach my mother on her cell phone.
Monday, I received word from my sister, who was playing phone roulette with my mother and her weak cell phone signal, that everyone was alright. Naturally, discussion centered on calming everyone's nerves and making plans to inform the rest of our extended family about the wonderful news.
But this storm, and many others like it, once again showed me who is really in charge of the earth me and the rest of my family live on, and it is not us.
Tim Olmeda is the news editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.