posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 11:32 AM
Hello ATS -
As a newbie in training, I haven't posted much as I've been tying to find my footings around this great new place I've found...ATS. So please
forgive any mistakes I may make here, and Mods, please move this thread if need be...and I'll gladly stand with my nose in the corner!
We've been following Rita since her "birth" - haven't we all? lol. Since we live in Houston, we've paid particular attention to her track. We
live just about 80 miles north of Galveston. Now, that sounds like it's far, and on a beautiful, hot summer day it seems like an eternity to get to
the beach - but in actuality, it's not all that far - especially with a storm the size of Rita. Both my husband's company and mine closed late
Wednesday so families would have time to do what they needed to do in order to be safe. We began making preparations for Rita's visit....taping
windows and then placing plywood over them, removing screens, removing anything in our yard - front or back - that could become projectile and hurt or
damage someone else's property. We also took a dead tree down, as did several of our neighbors, to protect our property and our neighbor's
property. Those of us that chose to stay (and I'll get into that in a minute), got together and traded phone numbers, cell numbers, email addresses
so we could communicate, if need be, with each other. It was also good to know who was here in our community. Knowing that will allow us to help one
another should the need arise (and I hope it doesn't) to help each other after Rita's visit. Are there many of us here in my subdivision? Yes.
Why have we chosen to stay? We all have our various reasons - some think that we'll only get a bad rainstorm and other think we may get a tornado.
Still others think that we'll get, along with the rain and possibly a tornado, straight line winds - the kind that damages property - rips off roofs,
up roots trees and such. All of us have tried our best to take the necessary precautions.
Now, I'll explain the reasons that we have decided to stay in our home.
We tried to leave yesterday - which would be Thursday. The projected path was still up in the air, but we thought we might be safer if we could leave
the city. We waited until late in the day - 6pm. We know many backroad that are hardly travelled - some are dirt roads as they are in the country -
and we were hoping that we could use those avenues to get us to our family in Dallas. After being in the car for 3 1/2 hours, having gone 2 miles
total with our one year old (as of today 9/23 - what a birthday present, eh? lolol) and two 150 dogs. We decided to turn back and try later. We came
home, watched the news for a bit, slept and got up at 2:30am to see if we could leave again. At first, we were moving pretty good and we felt
confident that we'd be well on our way. Then we ran into traffic and again, we sat in grid lock, not moving for another 4 hours. We poured over our
map - scrutnizing every possible avenue - all to no avail. We decided to go back home. Had we not had a one year old with us - the traffic, while a
pain in the rear, we would have endured. Our Babe just couldn't do it - and I understand. I couldn't put her through that any longer. Now I'm
sure there will be those that will criticize our decision to come back home, however, I feel much safer and protected in my own home than I do in my
vehicle, stranded with thousands of others, on an open freeway where a hurricane can have free reign on my family. I will protect my family as best
as I can - a car is no shelter at all.
On our way home, we began hearing of people dying in their vehicles from carbon monoxide. We heard from several other families, all with little ones
like ours, who were turning back and going home because of the horrid traffice jams. Pets perished in vehicles due to the extreme heat. People were
turning off their a/c trying to save gas - sitting with the windows and doors open for any air from the outside. We learned of the terrible bus fire
in which 24 elderly people perished - our hearts just broke when we heard that news. We learned of the thousands and thousands of people stranded,
literally out of gas, or stuck in gridlock, on the freeway with Rita bearing down - literally screaming towards them with no shelter and nowhere to
turn to for safety.
We then learned that the gas trucks that were promised LAST NIGHT at 7pm were finally reaching some people. Good news, eh? Well yes - sort of - the
gas trucks will be giving people 5 gallons of gas each. Okay - any gas is good, however, with the unimaginable traffic here, 5 gallons will be wasted
away in trying to escape the mountains of traffic as you sit on the freeway going nowhere. So those people who ran out of gas, will again, run out.
THERE IS NO GAS IN HOUSTON - NONE. I'm sure you've all heard that by now. Really, 5 gallons is like a tease - and it's no help at all. Speaking
of gas, family members from Dallas have called us and they are beginning to see long lines at the pumps - and a couple of stations have run out of gas
already. And the millions of people evacuating to Dallas haven't even reached Dallas yet. I would assume that Austin and the other cities that will
be receiving people fleeing from Rita will experience the same gas shortage. Please take my advise - fill up your vehicles and fill up your gas cans.
Stock your food pantry. Pick up that baby formula. Have plenty of water on hand. We told our family in Dallas to do the same. The cities impacted
by the evacuees will be experiencing the same thing we are here - so be ready. I cannot stress that enough. Please DO NOT think that because you are
far removed from Rita that you will not feel her effects. You will. 2 MILLION PEOPLE ARE EVACUATING FROM THIS AREA. If your area doesn't run out
of gas, the price will skyrocket because of Rita. Get it NOW - do it all now. Do not wait. 6% of the nations refineries are in the path of
Rita in Port Arthur/Beaumont Texas.
And there is something else to remember, it's not only Rita evacuees that will cause impacts, it's also Katrina evacuees being moved from Houston.
All exits are blocked off on the evacuation routes out of the city. The evacuation routes out of the city have all been turned into contra lanes -
with the exception of Highway 290. Contra lanes means that they turned the freeway - both sides - in one direction heading out of the city to
allievate the traffic jams - while a noble effort - I-45 is a mess. If you haven't seen the jams on tv, and I'm sure most of you, if not all of you
have, seen them - think of going to your favorite sporting event or concert. Now, imagine that jam a 1,000 times worse. Imagine taking 24 to 48
hours to travel a usually 4 hour trip. Or 16 to 18 hours to travel a usually 1 to 2 hour trip. There are people stranded in the south - who I don't
think will make it out in time before Rita hits. Galveston's surf is already showing signs (as of 11am on 9/23) of the outer bands of Rita reaching
the island. New Orleans is experiencing wicked rain and the Mississippi, which normally flows in one direction is physically being rerouted by the
force of the winds from Rita. It's flowing backwards if you will. The levee (in NO) that protects the 9th Ward...is leaking. This was the levee
that was hit by the barge. The levees that broke during Katrina are "patched" not completely repaired. They were patched to stop the flow of water
into NO so that the cleanup effort could begin.
All the stores have closed - there is not one store open - anywhere - until you reach Hunstville and further north (speaking from an I-45 perspective
as that is the route most known to me). I'm sure people using the Katy Freeway (I-10) and 290 are experienceing the same thing. Those stores to the
north will sell out of many items, and have - the supply trucks can't get to the stores because of the contra lanes to replenish the supplies - so
once, bread let's say, is sold out - it's out.
This is disasterous....I guess that's an understatement.
Right now, our winds have picked up ever so slightly. Yesterday, it was eerily still - no wind, no birds, no frogs, no crickets even. Just hot.
Like an oven - the sun was just beating down on us along with his friend, humidty. It's still so very hot here - close to 100 degrees. In Houston,
we have awful humidity as well - so it feels so much hotter than the actual degree. The weather guys have told us that we will begin to feel changes
later today through the evening and on into Saturday as Rita comes ashore.
Rita brought to mind one thing, among others, for me - it made me think of what would happen if we (we being Houston - we who house a city called
Texas City - full of refineries..NO is our neighbor, which we all know, has refineries as well in Lake Charles, Chalmette) were attacked - bombed.
The traffic jams we are experiencing now for a hurricane would be the exact same thing in a terrorist attack. Now, while it's not pleasant to
think this particular thought - that a good many of the people that are leaving now for the hurricane - wouldn't have the chance to leave as they'd
become victims of the attack, we'd still have this massive jam from those trying to escape. There would be no escape....no way out. People would
run out of gas, as they have done now. They would be sitting ducks on the freeway. The gridlock would be as it is now - immense. That is a very
sobering thought for me. Is it possible for the Houston area to be attacked? Of course it is - just as anyplace in the US is vunerable.
Back to Rita - I will try to update you as things happen. That depends if we lose power, which is a strong possibility.
May I ask that you each pray for all of us here in Houston and our surrounding neighbors as well as those in NO? Our southern neighbors will need it
the most as well as NO. Thank you.