Friday, September 23, 2005

---Rita Update 

Putting earlier comments into practice: We're in San Antonio, Texas, posting on a wireless hotspot in the lobby of the extended stay hotel. Most family and friends accounted for, including dogs and cats. We took 12 hours to travel the 250 miles from Houston, and we were lucky to have left early. Stories of people sitting on the road for that long, and travelling 5 or 6 miles are becoming common. Many finally ran out of fuel on the road, idling in the heat. Others gave up and went home to contend with the weather. The National Guard has attempted to establish refuelling points for the evacuees. It seems that the arrangements for contra-flow lanes, converting inbound freeway lanes to outbound, took much longer to implement than expected, making the situation worse. For future reference, the concept of evacuating over a million people in individual vehicles doesn't work.
As of this post, it appears that hurricane Rita will track toward the Texas-Lousiana border, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange. <FoxNews.com><NOAA> It appears that the 15-20 foot surge will not strike Galveston Bay, an unimaginably catastrophic scenario. Wherever it lands, extreme damage is expected. Port Arthur is one of the largest refinery centers in the nation. There won't be a good place for this huge, category 4 storm to land.
Elsewhere: a bus loaded with elderly evacuees from Houston has exploded and burned in Dallas, with the possible loss of 20 or more of the passengers. <FoxNews.com > Rains from outer storm bands of the monstrous storm have already reached New Orleans, where an overstressed levee in the 9th Ward has failed. Now we're hearing that water is running over the stricken Industrial Canal levee. <CNN.com> Tropical storm winds are expected to reach New Orleans later this afternoon.
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