Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita--Friday

It is looking a little better today, since the storm is dropping force. It shifted away from Galveston/Houston which is better for us, but worse for Beaumont/Port Arthur. Thanks for all of your emails and comments--it means a lot.

Email from hubby to friends/family at 9 am:

Appreciate all the emails and calls of concern. We are t minus 18 hours or so from landfall.

The anticipated impact of Rita in Bryan/College Station has dramatically improved in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, predicted path of the eye of the hurricane was about 30 miles to the west of BCS, with anticipated winds up to 110 mph, rain of up to 15 inches and probable tornadoes (the worst part). Now, predicted landfall is along the Texas-Louisiana border, with BCS now under a tropical storm warning (winds about 50 mph and rain). Now everyone is thinking this will water the dry grass. The key to watch for us is the point of landfall and whether we are on the east (very bad) or west (much better) side of the projected path.

I am sure that you have heard about the horrible mess the roads continue to be due to the nearly 2 million people on the roads. The major problem has been the lack of gas. BCS ran out of gas (the entire town of nearly 200k!) yesterday after everyone in town filled up just before the first wave of Houston evacuees hit town.

My friend in Oklahoma, Pete, offered to house us but I am not sure we could have made it. Reports are that all hotels north of Houston all the way to Norman Oklahoma are filled. The news just reported that a bus of nursing home evacuees exploded on I-45 outside Dallas, completely blocking northbound traffic.

BCS has mobilized in a way that makes one proud. We have taken in roughly 10-20k people in shelters and private homes. Students from TAMU were mobilized to man the shelters and are doing a good job. We have a plan to take care of animals - I read up to 3000 dogs and cats. Horses were also being sheltered (on a baseball field?). The major problem has been gas. We opened 30 shelters, not including motels. BCS is now full and new evacuees are being sent on to Austin. I can imagine how they feel. Most of those people would have been on the road up to 20 hours to go the 73 miles between Houston and BCS.

Anyway, I have to go clean out the garage, so we can park the cars inside. Then I have some tree limbs to take down and red, blue, yellow or green plastic toys to pick up - they seem to be everywhere. Where does that crap come from?

And another from hubby at 10

Things are going well in BCS at 9 AM. Several observations:

The wind just picked up; noticeable increase in speed. Could be due to local heating due to the sun (it is expected to be 103 degrees today) or first effects of Rita. Satellite images ( have the outer clouds now over Central Texas.

Tough about the bus in Dallas that exploded. Heard 24 people died, mainly because of the oxygen tanks on board.

Amy called to see if we could help in the shelters. They wanted folks to stay locked in the shelters from 6 PM Friday to midday Saturday. Since we could not take Anna, only I could go and Amy would be alone when the storm hit (if it really does). Amy put the cabash on that idea pretty quick.

How do you know that there will no looting in Texas? The Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that there were major run on three items in Houston: gas, water and guns. People cited the need to defend home and family. The culture differences between Texas and Louisiana are like those between France and Germany. If you have visited the two countries, you know what I mean.

Experts are citing a major worry that the storm will stall over Northeast Texas/OK/Arkansas/Louisiana and dump huge amount of rain. Notice that the maps of the 3 day Cones and 5 day cones of Rita's path are almost the exact same ( It would be ironic if Gretsch was more impacted in Oklahoma City that us.

I finished taking down the dead limbs over the house and moved the stuff outside. We are now going to store Amy's car in a parking garage. Then I have to clean the garage. Oh joy.

And at 2 pm


Been a busy day. Winds have definitely picked up with gusts to 30 mph. I took a nice photo of the edge of the hurricane clouds which I will send. It is cloudy outside and hot.

It looks like Rita will make landfall right over Port Arthur Texas (on the border) around 2 AM Saturday. As you probably know, it has been downgraded to a Category 3, with a strong possibility of strengthening just before it hits land. There are reports of strong waves along the Texas coast and rain in Beaumont, near Port Arthur. Picture of the Galveston sea wall (6 or 8 ft high) below.

About an hour ago, the Govenor asked everyone to stay where they were and ride the storm out. The biggest problem remaining in Texas are the hundreds of cars stalled or trapped in traffic jams on roads leading out of Houston. Most of them have run out of gas and they are waiting for National Guard tankers to come and fill them up. Many of the stalled cars are in East Texas, not far from where the storm will come ashore. I wouldn't want to be in that situation - far too powerless. There are a number of reports of people and animals dying in the traffic jams from carbon monoxide poisoning (

Heard a story this morning that just tugs at the strings: an extended family traveling in a 5 car caravan stopped at a gas station. When they left, they left behind a 10 year old boy. The Police had no way to find the family. Can you imagine the panic once the boy was discovered missing.....Ok, I just checked the Houston paper web site and the Police were able to find the boy's father in Dallas (

Finished putting all our outside stuff in the barn. Got to clean the garage a bit more and then put the truck away. That first beer is going to taste mighty good.

Talk to you in two hours or so.

Since these emails we have taken my car to the parking garage and made a space--everyone else had the same idea. We moved all the deck items to the barn and garage, the garbage cans in the barn, and chopped down any remaining limbs.

I posted a few pictures from yesterday. The shelters are full--Anna's school is housing 130 people and more are coming--but nowhere to go, no supplies, no gas.

I'll try to take pictures over the next day or so. Maybe it won't be as bad as we initially thought, though the poor people in Louisiana and east Texas.

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