Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rita report from my old friends, Ray and Linda Jones, who live in Texas

Thought I would fill in some of the details with Hurricane Rita.We left Port Neches (between Pt. Arthur and Beaumont, about 20 miles fromthe open Gulf) on Sept 14, our 41 anniversary and spent 2 nights at a casinoin Shreveport, LA. On Friday we went to Dallas for a Hallmark ornamentconvention. On Sunday we went to Jackson, MS. Seems like so long ago Idon't remember much, but all this was part of the plan.Then Rita, which as I recall started out for Corpus, started turning left.Linda suggested we go back home and I said I didn't like the idea of goingback into harms way. I think she has said that is the first correctdecision I have made in 40 years. LOL Our daughter was at our home.She had a good friend 2 hours north and we advised her to get out of Dodge.She left Wednesday. At one point in time Rita was forecast just west ofGalveston, which put it on path to our Son west of Houston (Katy). They letschool out Thursday and he drove all night on the back roads to Jackson.Then our daughters friend decided they would like to wait out the storm withrelatives, so on Friday, our daughter came to Jackson. She started earlyand well north of the traffic jams and had no problem. So, everyone beatthe traffic and everyone is safe.Watching the storm on TV, she continued to turn left and struck the coast2:30 AM, Saturday, Sept 24. It was like my house was in the cross hairs.We may be 20 miles from the open Gulf but that is all swamp and inland lake.For a week, I didn't know if the house was undamaged, blown away orsomewhere in between. Our son went back to Houston on Monday afterlandfall. The Interstate was open but they wouldn't let you get off. Aftera week, they began to let people in to check the damage, but you had toleave by 7PM curfew. On Sunday a week after land fall, our son came over tolook at the house. He was able to call us on the cell phone while he walkedthrough and around the house and took a picture which he emailed us. Lost afew shingles on the front corner of the roof over the garage. We also renta storage room which lost the roof and we haven't even gone to look at that.One suggestion, if you have to evacuate anytime, get your neighbors phonenumbers. Most of us have cell phones. Even so, many neighbors go torelatives and you can get those numbers. Having no information is theworst. I even got some wrong numbers on my cell phone and tried to talk tothe people and they wouldn't. When all else fails, call the hair dresser.Not as funny as it may sound. I saw on the web that they were gettingelectricity in the area of our hair dresser. I had the number so Saturday(two weeks after land fall) I called, and I know most of them anyway. Sosomeone answered and she filled me in on what was going on. I hadforgotten, but our hair dresser grew up across the street where her dadstill lives. A couple of more calls and I found out neither my house oracross the street had electricity. Our hair dresser was expected to work orat least come in on Tuesday, that's Oct 11. On Tuesday I called. She saidthey ran out of transformers and had to order one from Arkansas, should be acouple of days. Took my number and said she would call as soon as her dadgot power. That afternoon, she called back, power was on. I immediatelycalled home and glory be, my answering machine picked up.We came home Wednesday, Oct 12. Emptied the side by side fridge and thefreezer (garbage pick up on Thursday). That was not a fun job. Thankfully,the stuff was frozen again. Cleaned the fridge. Haven't touched thefreezer except for the contents. It's 30 years old, may just hose it downin the street and leave it for the trash.Somebody, somewhere mentioned all the trees were down. Of course, they arepiled up on the side of the road. But the first thing you notice is thereis something different about the neighborhood. Then you realize the treesare gone. Some broke off half way up. Others up rooted. Others lost allbranches on one side of the tree. But the appearance of the neighborhoodwas radically altered.It's now the weekend. We went to an open grocery store and they had plentyof food. Then we made Wal Mart. Had heard there was a line to get in, butit is now normal. Not only do we have electricity, but the boil waternotice has been lifted and the curfew is off. Linda has gotten her hairdone and I'm working on the roof. Inside the house, everything is normalbut I'm still shocked every time I step outside.We are ever grateful for everyone's prayers. We see blue FEMA plasticcovering whole houses. Houses with trees resting on them. Strip shoppingcenter that looks like it was blown apart from the inside. Roofs that looklike they were opened with a key like old Spam or Sardine cans. We werevery lucky.Ray and Linda Jones

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