In Rita’s Wake

File Under: The Wrath of Rita

Hurricane Rita hit US shores as a category 3 hurricane at 3:30 am EDT, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. It hit close to the Texas/Louisiana border. More than 1 million people are without power. Fires were sparked across the damage zones. A 15-foot storm surge swamped Louisiana towns, requiring the same type of boat and helicopter rescues that we became accustomed to seeing after Katrina struck.

But unlike Katrina, which killed over 1,000 people, there are no reports of Hurricane Rita-caused deaths. Officials credit chiefy the smart evacuation plans for the non-existant casualty numbers. However, one person DID die in Mississippi, as a result of a tornado that spun off Rita’s remains.

Highways are already being cleared of debris.In Beaumont, Texas, power lines are down everywhere. Trees are toppled all over the city. In Louisiana, flooding caused power transformers to explode. Rooft were torn off, and more trees uprooted. In the town of Abbeville, flood waters were as deep as nine feet.

Over 500 people were rescued from across Louisiana’s coastal areas today. Most had evacuated in advance of Rita, or were still away from the area as a result of Katrina. A interstate in Lake Charles was closed after barges brooke loose from their moorings and slammed into the bridge, causing damage.

The Army Corps of Engineers say they will need at least two weeks to pump all the fresh flood waters out of the troubled city of New Orleans, which suffered more levee collapses yesterday. The main flooding is occuring in the Lower Ninth Ward. Crews are working on plugging those breaches.

As more about Rita’s damage becomes known, officials are asking residents to not return home immediately. Water services is down in many towns. In addition, the power is off, and many gas stations have no fuel. On that note, readers, it’s too early to tell, but damage to oil refineries seems to be relatively light.

In Pasadena, Texas, a blaze broke out at a shopping center. Several others fires also broke out in and around Houston. A 2-story apartment building was on fire, and at least 8 units were damaged. Several buildings were also destroyed or severely damaged after blazes broke out in Galveston.

Forecasters are continuing to watch Rita, as it continues to prove impossible to predict. One possible treck has it hitting a pressure system, which would send it back down into the gulf, hitting the warm waters once again. It is entirely possible it could completely reverse it’s route, and hit the outlying areas of Florida once again. The gulf coast continues to get a pummeling from Hurricanes this fall, and TDI will continue to bring you the latest newsmaking headlines from these devestated areas.

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