Still Standing: The Fighting Spirit of Aud
Texas Panhandle Wildfires Burn Through One Million Acres
By Kara Bishop
If you ever want to know when you’re about to arrive in Canadian, Texas, just look for Aud.
She’s a bright green dinosaur sitting atop a hill just south of the Hemphill County Seat. The creation of Gene Cockrell named after his wife, Audrey. A focal point for kids traveling to see grandparents in the summer and a symbol of happiness for a small Panhandle town.
And for the past few days, she’s been all over the news. Except this time, she’s surrounded by smoke.
Multiple wildfires began eating their way through the Texas Panhandle on Monday. With 50 to 60 mile-per-hour winds on both Monday and Tuesday with little containment progress, more than 1 million acres have burned. More land mass than the entire state of Rhode Island.
It’s a heartbreaking situation. People have lost homes, livestock, and loved ones. There are many photos on social media showcasing the devastation of land, cattle and communities.
You can find all the news you want to on this fire online. Everyone is covering it, so I’m not going to.
Today, I’m going to focus on Aud and what she represents.
I don’t know why Gene Cockrell made a concrete dinosaur and put it on top of a hill. A dinosaur statue seems like an odd thing to add to pastureland. Some say he did it to let the children know when they were almost home after long car rides. It’s a cool story and could be true based on the multitude of memories shared on social media of coming over the top of the hill and seeing Aud on their way into Canadian when traveling.
Whatever the reason, the dinosaur statue could not be more fitting for times like these. Most people believe that the Behemoth referenced in chapter 40 of Job in the Bible is a type of dinosaur. In verse 23 of that same chapter the text says, “Behold if the river is turbulent he (Behemoth/dinosaur) is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.”
The dinosaur mentioned there stood strong and never wavered though the river rushed at him. Fire rushed Canadian earlier this week, and Aud is still standing.
She represents the resilience of Panhandle Texans because they have been through it the past couple of years. Last May, our social media feeds were full of people trying to help Perryton after the tornado ripped through the town. Now, everyone is banding together to help Hemphill, Hutchinson and all counties affected.
Watching the ag community take care of their own is a beautiful thing, even amid devastation. While we wish so badly this tragic event had not happened, it does illustrate the beautiful dimension to humanity when we all come together.
Plains Cotton Growers is praying for all those affected by the Panhandle wildfires. And one day, we won’t endure tragedy as Isaiah says:
“But now thus says the LORD…I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
How You Can Help:
Here are reputable crisis relief resources actively seeking to help our ranching neighbors – many of whom have lost land, livestock, and homes:
Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine Relief Drive
- Accepting water, food and supplies at 7671 Evans Drive, Amarillo, TX 79106
- Contact Tommy Butler: 806-228-0511
Examples of Neighbors Taking Care of Neighbors
Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference
Date: March 4-5, 2024
Location: McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, Lubbock, Texas
Plains Cotton Advisory Group Meeting
Date: March 8, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room
Auxin Certification Training – Lubbock
Date: March 8, 2024
Location: AgriLife Research and Extension – Lubbock Center
Pesticide Applicators Training (To Obtain TDA License) – Levelland
Date: March 14, 2024
Location: Levelland, Texas
For a full list of upcoming events, see the Events Page.