Saturday, September 24, 2005

The devastation of Hurricane Rita

Joe Gandelman has all the latest on Rita at The Moderate Voice, along with some links to some great posts elsewhere -- click here.

From CNN (check back for regular updates):

Regions along the Texas-Louisiana state line appeared to be hit hardest by Hurricane Rita on Saturday, as the former Category 3 storm dropped to Category 1 status just hours after making landfall.

High winds and flooding from Rita prompted President Bush to describe Lake Charles, Louisiana, as "hit hard" and its mayor announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Relief troops were deployed to the storm-wracked city.

Rita's center slammed into the extreme southwest coast of Louisiana at 3:30 a.m. ET, near Sabine Pass, Texas, with winds of 120 mph.

Louisiana and Texas officials said no deaths related to the storm have been reported.

Minor-to-significant damage and power outages were reported throughout the region, from Galveston, Texas, to Lake Charles.

According to the Times, it seems that Rita "[caused] far less damage than officials had feared," but there are "new concerns that its torrential rain and storm surges would cause widespread flooding across much of the region":

Despite property destruction expected to reach into the billions of dollars, preliminary reports indicated that Hurricane Rita was far less deadly than its predecessor, Hurricane Katrina. Officials said that was partly because of the evacuation of millions of Gulf Coast residents who heeded warnings, mindful of the flooding, death and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina only a month ago.

Meanwhile, as flooding ravages parts of Louisiana, Galveston residents are being told to wait and Houston residents are beginning to return home. In all, over 2.5 million evacuees are set to return to their homes along the Gulf Coast.

Make sure to check out the Lake Charles American Press's blog for updates from SW Louisiana, where Rita made landfall. The Galveston County Daily News also has a blog up in place of its main site.


For the latest from New Orleans and the Louisiana coast, see here. Louisiana is suffering major flooding:

Hurricane Rita flooded coastal communities from the Texas border to the mouth of the Mississippi River and rescuers used boats and helicopters to reach hundreds of residents who opted not to evacuate before the storm.
The hurricane, which struck land near the Texas-Louisiana border early Saturday morning, packed a storm surge of more than 15 feet in places, inundating small towns, sugarcane fields and marshes along the coast. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses lost power as transformers exploded, roofs were torn off, and trees uprooted by winds topping 100 mph.

A canal lock on the intracoastal waterway in Vermilion Parish was overwhelmed, sending water pouring through and raising fears that the water would be carried farther inland.

Authorities had trouble reaching some stranded residents because of blocked roads and savage winds, but there were no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries.

New Orleans, meanwhile, endured a second straight day of new flooding. Water poured into low-lying areas of the city and communities south of the city, where boats were being used to rescue people from homes swamped by up to six feet of water.

More to follow. I'll continue to post updates here at The Reaction, and there'll be more at The Moderate Voice throughout the weekend. But be sure to check all these links above and in previous posts for both national and local coverage.

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