Hurricane Isaac and How High is the Water Momma

 

My heart goes out to all of you, my up close and personal friends, who had to once yet again flee from your home while Isaac bared down upon Southeast Louisiana and the gulf coast of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. The next time this happens, just remember that I will prepare a place for you here. Some of you had 9 feet of water around and inside of your home. I am here to help if you need a place to go or if you need anything at all. I am very sencere about this, from the bottom of my heart. "How high is the water, Momma. 2 feet high and rising."

Whitlow is the first to conduct smoke school during a hurricane. This picture was taken on August 30, 2012 when Hurricane Isaac was pelting El Dorado Arkansas with heavy sheets of rain and 30 mile gusts. We called all the registered guests ahead of time and they all agreed to take our chances to get the school done on schedule. The guests stayed dry in a picnic shelter provided for Cemtura Chemicals. I enjoyed watching the sheets of rain go out across the pasture. Thank the Lord it was not thundering or lightening. I was a little distracted when the gusts blew over my heavy duty LSU Eye of the Tiger metal bar stool. We used a tree for a contrasting background so they could see the smoke in all of the clouds. Notice the high dollar raincoat operator John David Wallace is wearing. I don't mind spending large bucks for the convenience of our employees. I should probably apply for a patent on garbage bag plastic raincoats.

During the past 30 years (knock on wood) I have only canceled one smoke school due to weather. That would be September 2005 almost exactly 7 years before Isaac when Hurricane Rita came ashore near Lake Charles Louisiana. It is time for a little reflection. I am not perfect. I am forgiven. I try to follow the will of God. It is not always easy. I make mistakes and often depend on advice and opinions of Angie, my employees, and you.

Back in 1984 I took advantage of an open door to start conducting smoke school for Louisiana DEQ. Doors open and doors close. Behold I stand at the door and knock. In August 2001  I woke up to a small voice. "Build it and they will come."

"What do you want me to build- a cornfield or a baseball park?

"Smoke School- You love it and you know that it is the only thing in your life that you have ever been good at."

"But I feel so insecure. What about my perfect day job at DEQ?"

"Oh ye of little faith. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father."

"Do you realize that since I was in junior high school that I have worked for the government, either city, federal, or state? I remember my very first job umpiring, keeping score, mowing the grass, watering the infield, and making those white lines with lime? That was my best job."

"I know- I was there. Didn't you know that I have always known you and always loved you. Sometimes I got a little fed up, like the time when you got out of the air force the first time back in 72. I was going to let you be the manager at the Eastside Recreation Center in Monroe, but you refused to cut your hair. You had that long flowing black hair down past your shoulders trying to look like one of the Beatles- John Lennon, imagine that. Look at you now. I have seen more hair on a piece of bacon. So you had to go back in the air force. You did not turn out so bad. Could a been better."

"But this is a giant leap of faith, and I don't have much."

"‘Because your faith is too small. I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. All things will be possible to you"

"But how can I be sure that I can support my family?  What if things go wrong? What if I just can't do it.?"

"And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin."

He opened the doors. He opened the doors and prepared the way long before I ever thought about commercial smoke school. Hind sight is 20-20. I learned that you have to live life in the present but you will never understand it unless you study the past. All things do in fact work together for good for those who love the Lord. Back in 1998 I suffered a serious fall while building a barbed wire fence around my particulate air sampler located in a pasture at Bobby Wentz Meat Market in Geismar Louisiana. I was carrying several fence posts and slipped on a rain soaked wooden bridge that I built over a drainage canal. Three days later I could not get out of bed. I could not stand up for a month. The MRI said I had a bulging disc and damaged sciatic nerve. Like my great pal Jerry Clower I hope I never get sick enough to let them put me inside of a washing machine with things banging around me.

During my lengthy recovery I found my former wife's, Catherine's old computer and purchased a book "Computers for Dummies". I learned how to turn on a computer and turn it off.  Soon I was building web pages and wrote my novel. My boss at DEQ tried to force me to take a disability retirement. I told him that God was on my side and that I would recover. I will walk again. In  2001 I used these new computer skills to create www.smokeschool.net .

He opened doors even long before 1998. In 1976 I was stationed at Altus AFB, Oklahoma and sometimes preached at an Assembly of God Church where I met TSGT Don Lane. Don said that he thought God was leading me to come to work with him as an Environmental Health Specialist. I graduated from USAF SAM at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas. In 1983 daddy, George Wesley Whitlow suffered his second heart attack. At the time I was the NCOIC of Eglin AFB Environmental Health Clinic not for from Fort Walton Beach. Momma, Jhonnie Claire had attended a one room school with Governor John J McKeithan in Clarks, Louisiana. After daddy's heart attack Gov McKeithan made one call to Louisiana DEQ and I started working for them in Baton Rouge. I was as an air quality inspector, I also operated and preformed maintenance on air sampling sites, and conducted smoke school for up to 500 attendees at a time. I loved smoke school and did well because I took the time to listen to the advice of people who had attended training for 10 years or more. Hind site is 20-20.

He opened other doors. In September 2001 Governor Bud Foster approved early retirement for state employees. The next thing you know, I was sitting in the State Capitol with John's son, Louisiana Secretary of State Fox McKeithan, and Whitlow Enterprises Smoke School was born. Now you know the rest of the story. Why is Whitlow the best? Because I love smoke school and we listen to your advice. My momma always use to say, "Life is like a box of chocolates and the customer is always right."

Hurricane Isaac reminded me of Rita. Unlike other start up companies, Whitlow Enterprises shot off like a rocket. One small step for man and one giant step for mankind. I built it and you are coming. Thanks to all of you who want the very best. My former wife of 20 years, Catherine Lundergan saw how fast we were growing and suggested that we move to Washington Indiana to take care of her parents who were both suffering from terminal illnesses. You spend your entire life taking care of the old folks. Wink and you are the old folks. We ended up taking my mother along because she was also suffering from heart problems. We had a smoke school scheduled at UOP in Shreveport the day Hurricane Rita was scheduled to arrive. I called my kid brother, Ricky and he said Rita was scheduled to drop 20 inches of rain onto the ground in Shreveport. Massive flooding was predicted. I called Angie Oller at UOP and canceled the school and she became irate. "You never can trust a weatherman," She said. Angie was right. When I woke up on smoke school day in Washington Indiana, Rita was over my front yard. Shreveport got 2 inches of rain.

In 2002 we became the first to conduct smoke school in Milwaukee with 2 feet of ice on the ground and a chill factor of minus 37. I was bundled up in multiple layers of underwear, and my Air Force parka and insulated snow boots. Our guests were comfortable in a heated Vulcan Materials maintenance shed while watching me smoke and freeze through a roll up door. Luckily I brought along 2 sets of plastic fuel line tubing. I kept one set by the heater. But several times the diesel fuel froze up before I could attach the lines to the machine. Needless to say, I was colder than a will diggers ass in China.

In 2008 we became the first to conduct smoke school after a blizzard and an ice storm. Dave Hudson conducted this school where the Ohio River flows in Henderson Kentucky. Needless to say, Dave was colder than a well diggers ass in China. Ordinarily it would be impossible to even see the white smoke with these clouds. Notice the trees in the background. We try to always find places with shelter for our guests and trees in the background. If we can't find a background we bring our own.

We send out monthly email with stories and sudden changes to our schedule. Be sure to send us an email at smokeschool@yahoo.com subject add me to the list for the state where you take smoke school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Whitlow Clan of Crew 1 has a great day at the TCEQ Trade Fair in Austin, Texas. (Sweat Angie, Big George, David Wallace-the fireman, and Pete the Salesman. At the end of the day we decided to find a nice restaurant. There was a lounge next to the restaurant. There was a big greasy mean looking man standing outside next to the lounge door. He was as big as a rhinoceros and had a wild hairdo like a water buffalo . Everything is big in Texas. He reached out and grabbed me by the arm. Then he said that he thought he could whoop me. He said that he was keeping a list of people that he could whoop up on. "What is your name so I can add you to my list?"  I said that I was Big George.

Then he grabbed David when he came by. "I think I can whoop you. I am going to add you to my list of people that I can whoop." Then he reached out and grabbed Pete by the arm. "I think I can whoop you. I am going to add you to my list of people that I can whoop." Pete said fine. Pete took a few steps away and then stopped. Well Pete lives in a double wide and ever once in a while the Louisiana red neck pops out.  Pete turned around and picked up that rhinoceros by the shirt collar and said, "I don't think you can whoop me!"

The fellow did not miss a beat. He said, "Well, put me down so I can take you off my list."

And that is the news from Lake Wobegone, where all the women are beautiful, the man are smart, and all the children are above average.

Smoke School Schedule September and October: You may register by replying to this emial, clicking the links below, or by phone 318-361-2355

We will be drawing names out of the hat for 2 free football tickets to the following teams: LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Saints, Colts, Texans, and Cowboys. When you register for smoke school please inform us if you wish your name to be in the hat and for what team. You must register in advance for any smoke school on the 6 months schedule to be eligible.

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