The Landfall of Rita

How to begin. There are so many things that have happened since I last wrote anything. I will try to hit the high points.

First,the storm. We lost battery backup just minutes after I wrote my last blog entry. Then I faded off into a shallow sleep as the storm raged on outside. About 3am I was jolted awake by the sound of the howling wind and ripping sheet metal. The awning over the outside porch had come loose and was banging around in the breeze. Minutes later the 20x30 foot sheet ripped free and took a good bit of the cafeteria roof with it. The water started to pour in and the "civilians" staying with us freaked out.

The storm raged on for about 6 more hours before anyone could get out of the building. Two civilian cars and the Houston Chronicle truck had windows bashed out and were filling with water.

We set out the next morning and made photos of the flooding and wind damage. The next three days were a blur. I have to look back through the images to even be sure what we did on what day. I worked closely with my old friend I.T. from the Dallas Morning News and fellow North Texas grad (and hurricane virgin) Rick "Gusty" Gershon and Matt Roark from the Austin paper. Ricky Hickman with the Lake Charles paper was the only local photog who stayed. Over all it was good. Two days after the storm we left to make a gas and beer run to Crowley. .

When we got back to the paper we sat on the tailgates of the trucks and drank beer and told our tales. It was a great experience. It is the way things like this are supposed to go.

The next day I found out Ricky Romero (the firefighter who stayed in Holly Beach) had gottten out and survived the storm. His house, as we all thought it would be.... is totally destroyed. I cannot imagine how he will rebuild or what he will do.

Yesterday was my last day working with Yancy. I am sad to see him go back to New York, but we did great work on a shrimping story in Delcambre. We met a couple who was just married a month ago. Her name is Stormie and his Cody. She explained the irony of her name and the fact that on their wedding night they watched Katrina batter New Orleans and on their one month anniversary they fled from Rita. As she finished, Cody's friend said under his breath.... "Get out while you can."