Matt's account of being blown by Rita - hurricane Rita that is


Up until the night before hurricane Rita hit, I was scared shitless, as they were saying Houston proper should expect 120 mph winds, there's NO F#CKING WAY my house would make it through that. All the freeways were a virtual parking lot with everyone trying to leave town, I simply didn't have the gas to go sit on the freeways and run out of gas. I made arrangements with the manager at work for a friend and myself and her parrots and tortoise and cat to ride out the storm in our office building if need be, which is on the 3rd floor of a bank. Plenty of concrete and steel, and we could go into the inner hallway or stairwells if the windows blew out, but the next day he said the building owners were going to lock the doors at 5 pm thursday and lock everyone out. Needless to say, it was looking grim and it looked like I was out of options at that point - no place to go, my house was going to get battered with 120 mph winds, and getting on the freeway not really a viable option.

Friday morning, however, I awoke to the news that the storm had taken a turn to the north and east, which now put us on the 'clean' or 'dry' side of the storm with top winds maybe 60 to 75 mph expected for the Houston area, so I breathed a sigh of relief and finished my plans to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm at home. The gas lines were long, but Wednesday night around midnight I had gone and gassed up my van at midnight so I would have gas after the storm in case there was no electricity or gas afterwords. It was an ORDEAL finding a gas station that was still open, and without lonnnnnng lines, but I found one at midnight with only about a 10 minute wait - only 6 cars were ahead of me. Earlier in the day time many stations had gas lines stretching for hundreds of feet - totally insane. Then I made extra ice in my freezer using tupperware containers, made a big pot of beans and rice with some pork ribs and froze everything, got flashlight and candles, and managed to wrangle a small bottle of propane for my propane stove, just in case.

Landfall was expected late Friday, early Saturday morning, so while the weather was still good, if you can call 99 degree weather in the middle of September 'good', I went to visit friends Friday evening and figured I would head home when it started getting 'hairy', which it never really did, just a little rain and some 35 mph gusts or so. About 10 pm it picked up a little bit so I headed towards my house, but stopped at another friends whom I had promised a candle but forgotten, so I dropped off a candle 'just in case', there were some other friends there so we drank some beers, picked guitar, and played harmonica for a while. I headed towards my house about 1 a.m. Saturday morning or so, it was barely raining and the wind gusts were just 'breezy', no big deal. I was in a pretty good mood till I turned the corner to my street and everything was dark. No streetlights, no nuthing. Son of a !%#%!. Well, good thing I was prepared, I just opened a north window and a south window upstairs and slept on a bed in the south guest room trying to catch a little breeze, lit a candle and turned on my old radio shack battery powered bike radio and tried to get some sleep.

The wind and rain did pick up quit a bit during the night, but no trees in my yard blew over although I did lose a few shingles on the north part of my house. Today is Sunday, and I haven't been anywhere in 2 days, but I think I will venture out, as I understand that stores are now re-opening, as well as gas stations. When I went to the Kroger's on Wed night there were a million people in there with their shopping baskets filled high, the shelves were picked clean. I did manage to find 3 cans of chili and a box of crackers but when I realized I that only 2 lines were open and surveyed the number of people in line with full baskets I opted to just forget it and walked out. I had ice, enough food, and a propane stove and candles to ride it out for the next 12 hours, or 2 or 3 days if need be, no problemo.

The power came on the next day (Sunday 10/25) about 4 pm but only lasted about 5 minutes, it then came on for good about 7 or 8 pm. Neighbors told me that they had heard a transformer explode around 7 pm the night before during the time I was out visiting friends.

A guy named 'Nick' whom I've never net but know from a DOS message board is somewhat to the east, I'm a little concerned because if he is in a low lying area in liberty county, he could be in trouble, as they are having to release 82,000 gallons of water per second from the trinity river dam and some flooding is expected in the low lying areas. I hope he's out of harms way....

anyway.... those of us in the Houston area dodged a major bullet on this one, our friends to the east, Beaumont, Orange, and Lake Charles however, were not so lucky, we should include them in our thoughts and prayers....

cheers Matt

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