30 May 2011

Memory Mondays: The Summer of the Storms

In the spirit of remembering, I went through some of my old journal entries, back to the late summer/early fall of 2005 - the summer of devastation with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Leaving Rita
21 September 2005 – 30 September 2005
Written by Suzanne McClendon

Our trip began 21 September 2005, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo’s landfall in Charleston, South Carolina. Hugo made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. We were over 200 miles away in Anderson, South Carolina, and were still impacted significantly.

At this point in our lives our official residence is approximately 45 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in Southeast Texas. This distance, or rather lack thereof, is too close to comfort for me.

As I first mentioned, our trip began 21 September 2005. A new hurricane is threatening to impact our lives and maybe destroy our new place of residence. We have been here just over a year; 14 September 2005 was our first anniversary in our Gulf Coast house.

We spent the nights of Sept. 21 and 22 in Sherman, Texas, at the La Quinta Inn, Room 213. We had to leave on Friday, September 23, because the room had already been reserved for the weekend by someone else.

Friday morning (Sept. 23) we headed for Tulsa, Oklahoma. On this trip, we used our first toll road. It wasn’t a scary thing after all. I didn’t know how I would drive a zillion miles an hour and get money into a toll bucket, but it wasn’t that way at all. I had a choice: go in the lane with the toll bucket, or go through a manned booth. I chose the booth.

We went through some beautiful country on the way to Tulsa. We are obviously at a higher elevation than we are used to, and it is wonderful. These folks are so lucky; they will actually get to have a winter.

We arrived in Tulsa a couple of hours after we left Sherman, Texas. Our destination was a Motel 6 on Garnett Road, I believe. It was awful! It was in a scary part of town, and the room was so small that they barely got the critter carrier inside it. There is no way that we all could have slept in there. I was so upset that I stayed in the car crying. David and I had words over it, but he understood my feelings. He went inside the room and called the Residence Inn. They were booked solid because of a convention, but found us a room at a hotel called Guest House Suites at 8181 E 41st Street. We were in room 511. It wasn’t scary, and it was a lot like the Residence Inn. We didn’t get a two-story suite like we had at the Residence Inn before, but it wasn’t scary, and we are fine.

We found out at some point that Hurricane Rita was a Category 5, but then made landfall as a Category 3 near Port Arthur, Texas, on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 24th, 3:38a.m. (if I remember correctly).

That is where the journal entry ended. We were away from home for about a week. Our house was still standing, suffering no damage from the storm that was predicted to go right over our town. We were blessed to have avoided direct impact, though our neighboring towns to the east were not so lucky. Though actual damage for the most part evaded our area, we were impacted nonetheless. The affected areas were without things that they needed and help was available to them from our area. Some people took advantage, but overall, people were helping people. Recovery still continues for those who lived through Katrina and Rita and that summer of the storms.

Photo Credit: This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties.
Hurricane Rita regional imagery, 2005.09.24 at 0915Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 33:40:07N Longitude: 90:14:59W.
Source: http://www.nnvl.noaa.gov/members/images/109802.jpg

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