Mose Buchele permalink
Volunteers clear a pile of debris from yard.
Volunteers clear a pile of debris from yard.
The creek clogged with debris, including dead animals.
Volunteers mobilize at a nearby church.
Volunteers hope to clear the creek one load at a time.
Creek littered with debris.
Animals rot in the water.
Photo albums found in the debris.
Volunteers at staging center organizing for cleanup.
After the floods on Halloween morning destroyed their home in Bluff Springs, a community just across the Austin city line in unincorporated Travis County, Debbie Lozano and her boyfriend slept in a tent in their yard.
“We got this creek right here, Boggy Creek, and then it runs in the back of the property into Onion Creek. So we got it double wammied!” she says, remembering a frantic escape in the night, the water rising to her chest.
They had no transportation, and didn’t want to leave their dogs behind. So when the flood receded they lit a campfire to stay warm, and began hauling their waterlogged possessions, what they could salvage, into the yard to dry.
Saturday, nine days after the flooding, volunteers arrived to rip out sheet rock and insulation from the house, clear debris and saw apart trees the waters had pushed against the property. Lozano said it was the first time anyone had come to help clean. She called the assistance a “miracle.”
Campbell says the food bank distributes between four and five million pounds of food a year. tributes
The Permian Basin oil boom has brought jobs and wealth to West Texas, but it’s also brought something less expected: hunger. During a recent trip to Odessa, StateImpact Texas’s Mose Buchele sat down with Libby Campbell, director of the West Texas Food Bank, to learn how, as she puts it, “not all tides raise all ships.”
1) Increased Property Values. With people moving to the Permian Basin from all over the country, property values have skyrocketed. You often hear stories of rents doubling when the time comes for a tenant to re-sign a lease. That’s put a strain on budgets and led to more hunger in the region.
“Maybe their rent was six or eight hundred dollars three or four years ago, it’s currently twelve or fifteen hundred dollars,” says Campbell. “You’ve kind of already busted your budget before you even get to the point that you’re purchasing food.”
The Texas Water Development Board’s most recent drought report showed that 97 percent of the state is still experiencing some level of drought. So what does a state that parched look like?
The agency, along with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Department of Agriculture, have come together to show you. Those three agencies have launched an initiative called “What Does Your Texas Drought Look Like?“, which encourages Texans to upload their drought-related photos to a public flickr page.
StateImpact Texas has collected ten pictures from the page in the slideshow below. You can see the rest of the photos (or upload your own) here.
Water usually flows out of these pipes in Brazoria County.
Water levels have reached historic lows at Lake Amistad.
Parched, cracked, soil is a common sight around Texas.
Infrastructure lays unused in the Olmito resaca near Brownsville.
O.C. Fisher Reservoir, near San Angelo, is completely dry.
A boat ramp sits in a dry Lake Colorado City State Park.
Taking a look inside the car
If the teams race too fast, the batteries will drain too quickly
A solar car approaches the pit
The battery, up close
It’s a sweltering Texas summer day in late June, and here at the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 race track in Austin, the stands are empty. Just last fall, they were filled with fans witnessing the deafening roar of cars going upward of 200 miles an hour.
But if you were to listen closely this summer day, you’d hear a barely audible zooming on the track. Peek down from the stands, and you’d see little pods zipping along the track at a brisk 45 miles an hour. They’re solar-powered cars, part of the annual Formula Sun Grand Prix competition, where several teams of college engineering students race against each other, and the constant drain of batteries.
Last year, a solar-powered yacht sailed all the way around the globe for the first time. A few weeks ago, a solar-powered plane completed a trip across the country. As oil prices and carbon emissions rise, could solar-powered transportation be a cheaper, cleaner way to get around? Continue Reading
Maria Galvin cleans up broken glass in the front of her business.
Searchers in protective suits walk through the blast zone of the fertilizer plant that exploded.
Meghan Clontz of Oklahoma City travelled to the town of West to be with family members after the massive explosion in the town
A tattered flag on the rainy morning of Thursday, April 18, in West, Texas.
Police and rescue workers stand near a building which was left destroyed.
An aerial view shows investigators walking through the aftermath of a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas April 18, 2013.
The apartment building where Darryl Garricks' grandchildren were when the blast hit. The children are OK.
Residents of West gather for a candlelight vigil on Thursday, April 19.
A flag is flown at half staff in West, Texas, near the scene of the fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in in the town of 2,8000 on Thursday, April 18, 2013.
After an explosion in the small town of West, Texas Wednesday night, some 14 are dead and 200 injured. The incident has displaced a number of people in the small Central Texas community, and questions have risen about the safety and regulation of the plant.
KUT photographers Filipa Rodrigues and Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon traveled to the town of West with StateImpact Texas to document the story. You can see their images, along with photos from wire services and state officials, in the gallery above.
Ruben and Riene Olivas worry what will happen to their business now that the plant has closed.
The streets of Plainview.
Statues of cattle can be found throughout town. A nod to the local importance of the industry.
Johnny Ray Muniz leaves his last shift at the Cargill Beef Processing Plant.
As Mayor Wendell Dunlap plans for the city's recovery, "your prayers are appreciated," he said.
A group picture taken the day the last cow came through the Cargill Plant.
The Cargill Excel Beef Processing plant in Plainview, Texas.
Irene and Ruben Olivas say the ripple effect of the plant closure threatens the bakery where they work.
By the time the cows arrived at Criselda Avila’s work station at the Cargill Excel Beef Processing Plant in Plainview, they had already been slaughtered, skinned and gutted. The carcasses came in hanging from a long chain that ran over the plant floor. They were divided up and divided again. Avila worked on skirt steaks.
“You gotta spread it open and then cut the little skirt off, and then throw that on the table and then peeling and just trimming the fat off is what it was,” she remembered recently, sitting in her living room. “You know, fajitas.”
It was numbingly repetitive work. More than 4,500 cows went through the plant every day. So when Avila was done with one, there was always another behind it. Then, on the last day of January, she saw something she never expected to see.
“There were the last few cows, then the last cow was coming down the chain, and people there were just banging our hooks,” she said. “People started crying, like ‘oh my god this is the end of it.’”
That was how the city of Plainview lost over 2,000 jobs. After years of drought, the U.S. cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1952. Cargill Meat Solutions, the company that owns the plant, says there are simply not enough cows in existence to keep the plant running. For years ranchers across Texas have been cutting back their herds in response to the historically dry weather, but this is the first time those cuts have reached up the supply chain, to hit the industrial heart of a Texas city. The plant closure could have wide sweeping ramifications across the region. Continue Reading
Customers at Evergreen Farms ride the trailer to the tree fields where they can pick out and cut their own tree.
Evergreen Farms owners lined up northern Fir trees in the cutting field.
Drought takes no prisoners, and Christmas trees are no exception. The 2011 drought decimated Texas wildlife, and not even resilient evergreens could take the heat. This left Christmas tree farmers in Texas with little or no trees to sell during the holidays. Some farms, like Evergreen Farms in Elgin, shipped in trees from Washington State and North Carolina to sell instead. Other farms had no choice but to close their doors.
This year, things have changed.
“We didn’t lose any from the drought this year, and we lost hundreds and hundreds last year,” says Mike Walterscheidt, owner of Evergreen Farms.
This year’s wetter summer weather improved tree growth, so Evergreen Farms is back to cutting down trees in the field. Continue Reading
Compacted by heavy equipment, each "cell" of trash covers some 15 acres and will eventually be covered with soil.
A gas recovery system is made up of 2.5 miles of pipe and 67 gas extraction wells.
Paul Pabor is Vice President of Renewable Energy for the site's operator, Waste Management, a Houston-based nationwide disposal giant.
From the landfill, the methane gas is piped to a cement-block building across the road.
Methane powers two huge engines that produce electricity.
Each engine cranks out about 1500 kilowatts
The electricity is then sent to the electric grid, enough to power up to 1800 homes in New Braunfels.
Landfills keep on producing methane for decades. This is the entrance to a city landfill in Houston and though closed in 1970, it's listed by the US EPA as a potential project to produce methane for nearby industries.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are 27 landfills in Texas that are producing enough methane gas to make electricity or provide fuel to power industrial equipment. The agency says another 57 landfills are candidates for such projects.
“Texas is one of the few remaining states with a large number of landfills that don’t already have landfill gas energy projects and may have the potential to support them,” the EPA wrote in a lengthy statement emailed to StateImpact Texas.
One of the LCRA’s tanker trucks got into an accident recently on the road into town.
Glass is still visible from the accident.
Lakes in Spicewood Beach a sign reminds residents of wetter times.
Low reservoir levels, like here at the North end of Lake Travis, have some advocating for storing more water underground, where it won't evaporate.
Lake levels are related to the levels of the water table in the area. If the lake goes down, more wells could go dry.
‘For Rent’ and ‘For Sale’ signs are a common sight Spicewood Beach. The community had been without its own source of water since January 2012.
Slide show compiled by Filipa Rodrigues
For one thing, there are a lot more ‘For Sale’ signs in front of a lot more houses.
“There’s vacancies all through here and unbelievably low prices, but there’s not takers. Who wants a house with no water?” asks Jim Watson, sitting next to his wife Wanda in their two story home.
Four Views Of The Leonid Meteor Shower Of 1966, A Peak Year For This Active Yearly Shower. The Next Leonid Peak Is In The Years 1998 To 2000. The Leonids Make Their Appearance, And Take Their Name, From A Point In The Constellation Leo. These Pictures Were Taken On November 18Th, 1966, From The Kitt Peak National Observatory Near Tucson, Arizona.
SHERBORN, UNITED STATES: The green streak of a meteor seen in the southern sky of New England photographed in Sherborn, Massachusetts early 18 November, 2001 and was one of thousands that entered the earth's atmosphere during a major meteor shower. The shower, which occurs over several days every mid-November, is called the Leonids because it appears to come from the constellation of Leo.
This Bright Leonid Fireball Is Shown During The Storm Of 1966 In The Sky Above Wrightwood, Calif. The Leonids Occur Every Year On Or About Nov. 18Th And Stargazers Are Tempted With A Drizzle Of 10 Or 20 Meteors Fizzing Across The Horizon Every Hour. But Every 33 Years A Rare And Dazzling Leonids Storm Can Occur But, Astronomers Believe The 1999 Edition Of The Leonids Probably Won'T Equal 1966, Which Peaked At 144,000 Meteors Per Hour.
Stars of the racetrack won’t be the only lights in the firmament this weekend. It’s also peak time for viewing the Leonid meteor shower. “The shower should produce perhaps a dozen or so “shooting stars” per hour,” UT’s StarDate at McDonald Observatory writes. “The best view comes in the wee hours of the morning, as your part of Earth turns most directly into the meteor stream.”
Peak viewing times should be between midnight and dawn Saturday night.
“Just remember, a meteor shower peak prediction is not an ironclad guarantee,” EarthSky writes. “If it’s clear, you might see nearly as many meteors in the predawn darkness on Friday, November 16 or Sunday, November 18. The days before and after that might feature meteors as well, as we pass through the Leonid meteor stream in space.”