When Hurricane Rita made landfall it was the fourth-most intense Atlantic Hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. After Rita made landfall in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, the storm caused $11.3 billion in damage.
The following story is my personal account of the days right before Rita made landfall, lessons learned, the actual landfall and the following days.
Wednesday morning it looked like Rita might hit Houston so my ex wife brought my youngest kids ages 9 and 11 to Bridge City Texas where my parents live, from there they (my kids and parents, not exwife) were going to evacuate to Jasper – to my house. Wednesday noon my 16 year old calls me, ask me to drive to Houston to get him out, my ex did not ask him if he wanted to leave before she left with the youngest children. At this time there was a voluntary evacuation of parts of lower Houston, Galveston area. So I left Jasper, drove to Houston, really the Bay town area to get my son.
1st lesson, have a full tank of gas going in and a plan for getting out.
Going into Houston was easy, everyone was going north – I was one of the few idiots going south. I was on HWY 96 headed south through Lumberton. Traffic was backed up through the entire city of Lumberton – 3 miles or so and 4 red lights. At this point I knew I was not going to be able to get back on HWY 96 north. I got on the phone with my wife, asked her to get on the internet – map quest, yahoo maps anything, and call her friends to see if they knew a way out of Houston using the back roads – she had about 2 hours till I needed the information. Going through Beaumont where 69-96 joins I-10, traffic was backed up for miles. This confirmed what I already knew, I was not going to be able to get out via I-10. Got to baytown, the Texas Department of Safety (DPS) and Highway Department had closed the exit I needed to take in order to get into bay town, had to go down 2 more exits, then back track. Got my son, got out to I-10 in Houston heading East. Traffic was crawling, I mean crawling because of construction at the San Jacinto River. My wife was able to get directions for me using the back roads. Once I got out of the construction zone, got off I-10 it was smooth sailing. I was one of 3 trucks for about 20 minutes.
2nd lesson, KNOW the back roads – this will be very important later in the story.
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