What is it with hurricanes this year?

September 21, 2005 at 8:19 pm | Posted in News, Random | Leave a comment

Why do they all have to be so big? God help us! Hurricane, after hurricane is hitting us. And it wouldn’t be so bad…but the storms are huge and causing a lot of damage. Below is an associated press article…with information about the storm.

Residents of this island city packed up mementoes and pets and started evacuating Wednesday as Hurricane Rita intensified into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds and threatened to devastate the Texas coast or already-battered Louisiana by week’s end. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for Galveston and New Orleans, one day after Rita sideswiped the Florida Keys as a Category 2 storm, causing relatively minor damage. Having seen what Katrina did, many residents decided not to take any chances. “After this killer in New Orleans, Katrina, I just cannot fathom staying,” 59-year-old Ldyyan Jean Jocque said before sunrise Wednesday as she waited for an evacuation bus outside the Galveston Community Center. She had packed her Bible, some music and clothes into plastic bags and loaded her dog into a pet carrier. The federal government was eager to show it, too, had learned its lesson, after getting pounded for its sluggish reponse to Katrina. It rushed hundreds of truckloads of water, ice and ready-made meals to the Gulf Coast and put rescue and medical teams on standby. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff urged residents to heed calls to evacuate. “The lesson is that when the storm hits, the best place to be is to be out of the path of the storm,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” At 8 a.m. EDT, Rita was centered about 195 miles west of Key West and 700 miles southeast of Galveston, moving west at 14 mph. Forecasters predicted it would come ashore Saturday somewhere between northern Mexico and western Louisiana, most likely in Texas. Meteorologist Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Rita could strengthen to a Category 5 with wind over 155 mph as it moves over the warm waters of the gulf, or it could ease to a Category 3, with wind of less than 130 mph. In New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers raced to patch the city’s fractured levee system for fear the additional rain could swamp the walls and flood the city all over again. The Corps said New Orleans’ levees can only handle up to 6 inches of rain and a storm surge of 10 to 12 feet. “The protection is very tenuous at best,” said Dave Wurtzel, a Corps official handling some of the repairs. Engineers and contractors drove a massive metal barrier across the 17th Street Canal bed to prevent a storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain from swamping New Orleans again, and worked around the clock to repair the damaged pumps, concrete floodwalls, earthen berms and waterways that protect the below-sea-level city. In addition, the corps had 800 giant sandbags weighing 6,000 to 15,000 pounds on hand, and ordered 2,500 more to shore up low spots and plug any new breaches. The federal government’s top official in the city, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, said the preparations in and around New Orleans included 500 buses for evacuation, and enough water and military meals for 500,000 people. Some 400 to 500 residents were left in the city, Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday. Many New Orleans residents were forced one again to decide whether to stay or go. The mayor and the governor strongly people in the storm’s path to get out. “We are praying that the hurricane dissipates or that it weakens,” said Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who declared a state of emergency. “This state can barely stand what happened to it.” In Galveston, about 80 buses were set to leave town beginning at midmorning Wednesday, bound for shelters 100 miles north in Huntsville. The buses were part of a mandatory evacuation ordered by officials of Galveston County, which has a population of 267,000. “The real lesson (from Katrina) that I think the citizens learned is that the people in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi did not leave in time,” said Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas. “We’ve always asked people to leave earlier, but because of Katrina, they are now listening to us and they’re leaving as we say.” No evacuation had been ordered north of Galveston in Harris County, which includes Houston, the state’s largest city, but officials urged residents to prepare for flooding. Houston is about 50 miles northwest of Galveston, but the area includes low-lying bayous that flow into Galveston Bay. Crude oil prices rose again on concern that Rita would smash into key oil facilities in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of workers were evacuated from offshore oil rigs, less than a month after Katrina damaged some installations. Texas, the heart of U.S. crude production, accounts for 25 percent of the nation’s total oil output. As Rita stormed away from Florida, thousands of residents who evacuated the Keys were expected to begin returning on Wednesday. There were reports of flooding and power outages, but U.S. 1, the highway that connects the islands, was passable, the Florida Highway Patrol said. “It was fairly nothing,” said Gary Wood, who owns a bar in Marathon, about 45 miles northeast of Key West. “It came through and had a good stiff wind, but that was about it.” Rita is the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, making this the fourth-busiest season since record-keeping started in 1851. The record is 21 tropical storms in 1933. And with Rita, seven hurricanes have hit or passed near Florida in the last 13 1/2 months. The hurricane season is not over until Nov. 30.

Quick update…Rita is now a category 5 hurricane, with winds in excess of 155 mph… Pray for the coast…



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