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The early years
The state of Texas was hit hard during Doomsday, particularly in its eastern half. All of its major cities - Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso - were hit, along with many smaller, but strategically important, cities and towns, including: Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Del Rio, Galveston, Midland, San Angelo, Laredo, Lubbock, Texarkana and Wichita Falls.
The first sign of the impending nuclear strike was found on local television around 7:45-7:50 p.m. Central time, as network programming, including the Emmy Awards, was interrupted by frantic reports from network studios in New York of impending missile strikes. Feeds were then lost from all three major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), plus the national feed to the local PBS affiliate. The Emergency Broadcast System then activated itself, although in Midland two TV stations and one radio station cut to local coverage of the ongoing disaster at the pleading of Midland mayor Thane Atkins.
In newspaper offices around the state, the Associated Press and United Press International wires moved items from Washington, New York and Dallas referring to impending missile strikes and instructions to seek immediate shelter; the last received wire from AP came at 8:01 p.m., from Dallas, indicating a hit in nearby Fort Worth and probable strikes in Washington and along the East Coast.
Around the state, flashes were seen in the direction of many large cities and military bases.
At that time, power went out throughout the region as a presumed Soviet weapon exploded somewhere over the United States, emitting an electromagnetic pulse that disrupted electronics and electricity, plunging the region into darkness.
Over the next few weeks, relief efforts would be organized on a local and regional scale, as the largest surviving towns in four distinct regions took the lead in filling the roles that the state and federal government would be expected to fill in such a scenario. In each region, state and federal agencies worked in tandem with local governments:
- Midland and Odessa were the center of relief efforts in the west
- The situation in the north was chaotic, but the local governments in Paris and the town of Graham proved to be the best organized
- In central Texas, Waco took the lead
- Eastern Texas efforts were centered in Nacogdoches and Tyler
- South Texas was the other most chaotic part of the state, with separate efforts organized by leaders in Bay City, Victoria and McAllen.
In each region, civic leaders agreed to fully cooperate on all matters for the foreseeable future, with the top priority to provide food, shelter and safety for their residents and as many refugees as possible.
In southwestern New Mexico, a similar agreement was come to among civic leaders in nearby Carlsbad and Hobbs, New Mexico.
In many surviving areas, police departments hotwired their vehicles and comandeered local gas stations, to maintain a steady short-term supply of fuel while patrolling their respective towns and cities. This was especially true in the larger surviving cities; smaller towns had their police officers resort to horseback.
Over time, as the largest cities took on the role of establishing provisional governments, they took over existing state agencies, and came to agreements with federal agencies. In many places, local departments of the Texas State Police merged with their local counterparts. Federal agencies continued to act as de facto representatives of the federal government, although their authority would lessen over time and in many cases would be absolved into the regional provisional state government.
The cities nearest the Mexican border not only absorbed refugees from blast sites in Texas, they also absorbed some Mexican nationals, even as people flowed out of Texas down into Mexico. The east Texas cities had to deal with refugees from neighboring Arkansas and Louisiana, while the north Texas cities dealt with people from Oklahoma.
In each region, after officials failed to establish contact with Austin and Washington, as well as any state, federal or military agency outside the immediate area, decisions were made to send scouts outwards to learn what had happened to the rest of the state. Refugees filled in many of the details of nearby cities and military sites; College Station helped connect leaders in Waco with leaders in Nacogdoches, providing an important link for central and east Texas in the immediate years after Doomsday.
In southwestern New Mexico, it was confirmed that blasts had devastated nearby Roswell, as well as Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Clovis and the Las Cruces area. Carlsbad and Hobbs combined efforts for relief, and were able to contact their counterparts in Midland and Odessa to coordinate relief efforts and other actions.
The situation amongst all the refugees throughout the entire state, but especially in south and west Texas, was fluid and chaotic.
Eventually, a larger group of refugees from south and west Texas settled in Mexico, a smaller group in and around Midland and Odessa. North Texas absorbed a few thousand people from Oklahoma, east Texas about 9,000 from Arkansas and Louisiana. Waco's population swelled by 300 percent in the early weeks post-Doomsday.
Despite the best efforts of civic leaders and relief workers, providing food and medical care proved almost impossible. City leaders rationed food and gasoline and requested help from surrounding surviving towns.
In Midland, Waco and Nacogdoches, engineers were pressed into service to figure out how to restore the power grid and telephone and radio service for future use. Through hard work and some ingenious methods, limited power was restored in each region by the fall of 1984; 99.1 FM in Midland is believed to have been the first station to return to the airwaves post-Doomsday, on September 11, 1984. (Aid from the Mexican government helped restore the power grid throughout Texas by 1996, and heavy investment by Mexican broadcasters would help invigorate the Texas broadcasting industry by the late 1990s)
Meanwhile, in many parts of the state, people looked back towards their ancestors, those who settled the state of Texas in the 18th century, for ways to cope and survive temporarily without electricity and other modern conveniences.
In the next couple of years the state population of residents and refugees declined to 3,700,000, on account of deaths from radiation, disease and violence.
On October 4, 1983, Midland and Odessa formed a joint confederation.
Midland/Odessa leaders first approached Carlsbad and Hobbs leaders about a confederation, for mutual aid and defense. Carlsbad and Hobbs agreed to the idea. Midland/Odessa then approached leaders of all other surviving towns in the area about joining the confederation, and by January 1984 the confederation had been formalized, concentrated in the Permian Basin area of western Texas, and southwestern New Mexico. The cities agreed to form a provisional state government, but talk quickly came to form an independent nation, as no contact with Washington or any federal or military agency had been made since Doomsday.
The cities decided to formalize their union into a Provisional Government of the Cities of Western Texas and Southwestern New Mexico in August 1984. A provisional governor, Midland mayor Thane Atkins, was appointed by direct vote of the mayors of the towns that made up the alliance.
Officials began to draft a provisional constitution for a Republic of West Texas, based upon the United States and Texas state constitutions.
On July 4, 1985, representatives from Seminole, Lamesa, Andrews, Colorado City, Snyder, Big Spring, Midland, Odessa, Kermit, Monahans, Sweetwater, McCarney, Fort Stockton, Fort Davis, Alpine, Marfa, Presidio, Sanderson, Ozona, Pecos, Van Horn, Carlsbad, Hobbs, Lovington, and Artesia gathered at the Midland Community Theater to formally sign the constitution. It included two provisions that allowed for the legislative branch to be filled by the signers until elections could be held that fall, and for the interim legislature to appoint an interim President until the fall elections.
The capitol was established in Midland; the President worked out of the mayor's office, and the Legislature met in Midland at the Midland Community Theatre until the West Texas Capital Building was completed in 1999.
Atkins, the provisional governor of the confederation of cities that preceded the Republic, was chosen by the interim Legislature members to be provisional President of West Texas. Elections to formally elect a president and legislators were held in November. The Legislature was seated on January 20, 1986, the same day Atkins was sworn in as President.
Chaos reigned throughout the region in the first few weeks post Doomsday, as local surviving towns struggled to maintain order.
The two cities that did - Graham, just over an hour west of Fort Worth, and Paris, about an hour northeast of Dallas - were the ones that survived, along with adjacent towns, farms, and villages.
Paris leaders were able to organize a system to distribute food and medicine to the populace and refugees, as well as a militia to protect the shipments and maintain law and order in the area. Even as hundreds died due to radiation-related sickness, other survivors came into the area. The most able-bodied were put to work.
Graham weathered the crisis similarly as Paris. Tent cities were built in and around the town, and as the population grew materials would be harvested from nearby Possum Kingdom State Park - and nearby abandoned towns and villages - to build housing for the new residents of Graham.
One of the first acts of the Republic of West Texas in July 1985 was to send parties into Mexico to see if the country had survived, and request aid if the country was able and willing to give it. The West Texas group moved through Presidio, Texas and approached the Ojinaga-Presidio International Bridge, which was being patrolled by Mexican troops who happened to be the only other people in the abandoned town. Both group were surprised to see each other, and surprised but thrilled over the fate of each others' respective countries.
Arrangements were made to send food and medical supplies from Mexico through Presidio, and a scout team was escorted down to Monterrey to meet with local officials. There, they learned of the Mexican government decision to quarantine the border states, as well as the presence of several million American refugees there. Mexico also learned of its country's citizens who had fled north and decided to settle in West Texas.
Provisional Governor Atkins traveled to Mexico City in August, and met President Miguel de la Madrid; they discussed how their nations were coping with the aftermath of the war, as well as the status of American citizens in Mexico and Mexican citizens who had chosen to stay in West Texas. Atkins also learned that President Reagan and Vice President Bush had survived and had spent some time in Mexico last year before heading for . Relations between the two countries were generally good, although there were isolated incidents of conflict between West Texans and Mexican military. Telephone lines between the two countries were reconnected.
In September 1985 West Texas representatives were turned back at Anahuac, although they were given supplies, and told of the earthquake that had devastated Mexico City. They were "strongly urged" by a Mexican captain on the scene to turn back.
Atkins and other West Texas officials were curious as to why this would be the case. Appeals via radio met with no success, and phone calls into various points in Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas went unanswered. The line into Mexico City, obviously, had been cut by the quake. The government therefore had to send emissaries via horseback into Mexico. They did so officially 27 times between October 1 and December 14th, and civilians made dozens of unofficial attempts on their own; the 19th attempt, on November 19, by a party from Fort Stockton is considered to be the last positive contact with any military or humanitarian agency from Mexico.
From that point on, all attempts, government and civilians, to cross over were met with a show of extreme force.
On December 14, West Texas government parties - escorted by three divisions of Texas Rangers on horseback - were stopped at the Ojinaga-Presidio International Bridge by an estimated 1,000 Mexican military personnel. A Mexican Army general on the scene stopped the party at the bridge, and read a statement which said that all border states were being abandoned because of "your war" and that Mexico could no longer render aid to West Texas due to the Mexico City earthquake and the government's responsibility to care for its own citizens. The general then began to make disparaging comments about the West Texans and the United States, telling the representatives they could "go to hell for destroying our land" and that west Texas would "soon die off, like the rest of your country". He disparaged the refugees who fled from Mexico and said "you can keep those traitors", then went on an incoherent rant before yelling at his lieutenants to train their guns on the west Texans and shoot them "if they took another step forward".
West Texas parties on the scene have said they were willing to let the "your war" comment go, but the atmosphere - and their perceptions of the Mexican government - changed when the general read the statement, went on his rant and ordered his men to shoot. The leaders of the West Texas party put up their hands and said they would leave; before they did, the general threw a letter to them said to be from de la Madrid. The West Texans backed off the bridge, Mexican military pointing guns at them until they disappeared in the distance.
After returning to Midland on the 17th, officials read the letter, in which de la Madrid repeated verbatim what the general had said at the bridge. Its legitimacy was hotly debated, but Provisional Governor Atkins, the Provisional Assembly, and top officials in the Army and Texas Rangers determined it to be legitimate. They, and leaders of the Mexican refugee contingent, were outraged by the letter, and by accounts of the incident at the bridge.
Leaders of the Republican Party began to advocate drastic changes in the new government's policy of exploration and relations with anyone outside its borders: the leaders saw it as a sign that the post Doomsday landscape was "every man fend for himself" - as Mexico was apparently doing - and that West Texas should not only do the same, but stay completely to itself so it never found itself in a situation again like it had with Mexico.
Democratic Party leaders countered with the fact that West Texas had become economically dependent on Mexico and that while Texan independence was paramount, working through the issues with the Mexican military and coming to a peace with Mexico City was the most important issue the young nation would perhaps ever face.
As debate raged throughout Congress, Atkins consulted with his military leaders, then quietly ordered Texas Ranger scouts to observe all points of entry into Mexico...then authorized an expedition of Rangers and military, plus Ambassador Henry Morales, into Mexico itself, with the goal of restoring relations between their two nations.
The Rangers sent scouts to observe the Ojinaga-Presidio bridge, and other previous points of entry into Mexico. Each scout reported the presence of armed soldiers, and signs on the Mexican side of the border that read "STAY OUT. ENTRY DENIED. TREPASSORS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT".
What was not known to the Texas government nor populace was that Mexican President de la Madrid had learned of the conspiracy within his military to "punish the American gringos" for World War III.
As several leaders of the conspiracy were identified and arrested, the West Texas contingent made its way into Monterrey, only to be stopped by Mexican Army guards.
de la Madrid ordered the Army to escort the West Texas contingent into Mexico City. There, Morales and de la Madrid reconciled on behalf of their nations, and de la Madrid personally contacted Atkins via ham radio to apologize.
After news of the de la Madrid/Morales meeting, and apology to Atkins, became public in Midland, public opinion sharply turned against the would-be isolationists. Several key Republican leaders turned against the isolationists, and they joined Democrats in voting against several bills that would have cut off relations with Mexico and isolated the young nation indefinitely.
One important thing did occur as a result of the December 14, 1985 incident, however: relations between Anglos and Mexicans in West Texas greatly improved, as they realized that they would need to work together as one people to survive whatever challenges the future offered them.
Official routes between the two nations were restored by September 1986. Unofficially, individuals snuck down to the Rio Grande on both sides, and contacted each other by boat, always trying to avoid the Mexican and West Texas militaries, who by now were beginning to monitor for illegal drug trade.
In 1987, the leaders of the petroleum industry negotiated with Mexican businessmen to build automotive manufacturing plants in West Texas. The first plant, outside Midland, was finished in 1990 and nationalized by the West Texas government. Mexican automotive companies built plans in Pecos and Monaghans, both completed by 1992.
Over the next couple of decades, the population stabilized and began to grow, as women were encouraged to marry and have as many children as possible, to ensure the continued survival and growth of the Republic.
West Texas also benefitted from the Permian Basin oil fields not having been hit, and the added benefit of being able to conserve oil for only domestic use. Because parts were rare (even in Mexico), and the thought that the oil in the Permian Basin wasn't limitless, West Texas made the decision in 1989 to discourage mass consumption of oil and vehicles, and limit them only for public transportation and to farming, government, military and police use.
The Department of the Interior - given temporary authority over broadcasting, until a Texas Communications Commission could be created - mandated that most radio and television stations' transmitters reach just past the national borders, while authorizing the maximum wattage for 550 AM and 99.1 FM. While the flow of refugees coming in had ceased, it was judged that it was possible that other Western states may have survived, and therefore it was worth having those two stations broadcasting at full power.
In September of 1989, West Texas scouts outside Carlsbad were surprised to make contact with scouts from Dinetah, a survivor nation established just two months before by Navajo Native Americans that encompassed portions of northwest former New Mexico. News of Dinetah's existence was a very pleasant surprise to West Texans. Dinetah ambassadors visited Midland in October, and relations were set up with the two nations.
West Texas also decided it would not object if citizens "happened to run into friendly outsiders" on their own accord.
The "friendly outsiders" provision, as it came to be known, was enacted numerous times over the years as West Texas citizens met citizens from Dinetah, Deseret and Colorado. Through these meetings the Republic received updates of happenings in Dinetah and Deseret and the "reformation" of a provisional government of the U.S. by a number of western survivor states. West Texas rejected membership, citing it only wanted to join a "legitimate" government of the U.S., and also rejected unofficial overtures to join the North American Union as a member in its own right.
Ham radio operators reported some success in reaching others in former Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Saskatchewan. They also learned through transmissions from Mexico that most of the countries in central America and the Caribbean had also survived; that Mexico had officially abandoned its border states; and some sort of American provisional government had been established in Australia and, years later, dissolved.
Government officials told operators to not contact anyone, again citing its official isolationalism policy, as well as uncertainty regarding the true status of the federal government and not being able to tell for certain if the operators were legitimate or not.
Tom Craddick, a Republican, won the presidential elections in 1993 and 1997. Conservative leaders from both parties controlled domestic and foreign policy.
On May 24, 1995, two important events occurred.
First, hundreds of former Americans wishing to return to their nation crossed over the bridge from abandoned Manual Ojinaga into Presidio. This after months of negotiations between Craddick and Mexican President Calderon over accepting some of the American refugees in Mexico who wished to return to the United States. Refugees passed through Manual Ojinaga and the Presidio bridge, and eventually 20,000 people found their way into western Texas.
Second, West Texas military exploring central Texas ran into scouts from the city of Waco, itself undergoing great turmoil.
The news of the survival of West Texas, and encounters with sentries from eastern Texas a few days later, was a great encouragement to the people of Waco, who believed that they might be the only people left alive in the former United States.
On August 11, 1995, Craddick met with the governor of the provisional Republic of Texas based in Nacogdoches, and the mayor of Waco, at Baylor University. Support for the unification of the three nations into a Republic of Texas grew politically and popularly.
In November 1995, 98 percent of voters in Waco supported Texas reunification in a special referendum. A similar referendum held in February 1996 in eastern Texas saw overwhelming support for reunification. In March 1996, 82 percent of West Texas voters supported reunification.
The constitutional convention for the Republic of Texas was held June 28-July 5 at Baylor University. With official observers from the ANZC, Mexico, Dinetah, Brazil and the United American Republic on hand, and media from Mexico present, the constitution was signed, and ratified, by all 138 delegates on July 4.
The Republic of Texas was officially proclaimed on July 5, 1996, and officially recognized by Mexico, the ANZC, Brazil and the United American Republic the same day.
Discussion arose in 1997 of joining some sort of NATO-type alliance with Mexico and the South American nations. One conservative senator said "we're doing just fine on our own; if anybody wants to find us, they can come find us. We have enough problems here without going out looking for more trouble." That seemed to be the sentiment of the conservative leaders.
Texas continued to slowly but gradually push outward.
Its first priority was to set up stable telecommunications lines between the known surviving parts of the state, and to restore the electric grid in eastern Texas and in Waco.
Once that was completed in 1998, scouts were formally sent out to explore north and south Texas.
Survivor communities were discovered in southern Texas, some of the most notable being in Kingsville, South Padre Island and Port Isabel. In northern Texas, a string of survivor communities centered in Sherman and Paris were discovered.
Contact was also made with representatives from Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
Scouts from eastern Texas made contact with survivors from Louisiana and from Arkansas; this led to official establishment of relations with the survivor community of Hot Springs, and with the State of Louisiana. Through Louisiana, Texas also established relations with the two Mississippi survivor communities of Natchez and Hattiesburg.
Mike Conaway, a businessman from Midland, was selected as the Republican candidate in 2004 and won the election that November.
2008 Presidential campaign
Conaway was the Republican Party's only candidate for President and selected by a near-unanimous vote during the Republican convention in Midland on August 4. One week later, during the Democratic Party's convention in Midland, Harry Reeder, a Senator from Hobbs, was selected as its candidate.
Conaway, despite having an 82 percent approval rating and polls showing that as many as 70 percent of voters planned to vote for him in the November Presidential election, had still been campaigning for a second term. He did so even while working on establishing diplomatic relations with other North American survivor states and dealing with what has become known as the "eastern Texas situation".
Harry Reeder, Conaway's Democratic opponent in the presidential campaign, criticized Conaway and the Republican Party at a campaign stop in Fort Stockton on October 21. "It's good he's sending somebody over there, but he should have done so sooner," Reeder told supporters. "In fact, if the Republicans had stopped keeping to themselves a lot sooner, we'd know who those people are by now and, perhaps, our Republic would be sooner on its way to greater things."
The issue was at the forefront of Conaway and Reeder's debate in Odessa October 24. A Texas News Service poll showed that Reeder's recent aggressiveness on the topic did little to move poll numbers in his favor; 67 percent of voters told pollsters they still intend to vote for Conaway.
The 2-to-1 margin in favor of Conaway remained in place as of a poll taken the weekend before Election Day and released on Election Eve, November 1.
The elections were held on November 3. With 100% of the votes counted, as of 7 AM Central time on November 5, the official results were:
• Mike Conaway (Republican) 690,172
• Harry Teague (Democratic) 531,595
• Federico Aguayo (New Texas Party) 61,967
• Jeffery McLellan (American Party) 11,560.
Much more to come....