Storms on the Horizon

More personal drama for me this week as Hurricane Rita heads straight for my home towns of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. Initial word from my parents a few nights ago was that they were staying as long as the storm was making a path for Galveston. But as the storm took a turn right I got a call from them yesterday morning saying they were on the road to Dallas. But that didn’t mean much… Evacuating is never easy, I’ve done it multiple times myself, and along the Gulf enormous traffic tie-ups are normal. But this time the traffic to get out is worse than usual, because many people who would have ordinarily stayed saw the coverage of the last storm and are hitting the roads. Bad traffic was the entire reason my great-uncle decided to ride out the storm in Gulfport. On the phone with my parents they told me that stop-and-go traffic was keeping anyone from using their air-conditioning, and in Texas that means the heat was so bad people were passing out in their cars. I could hear my grandmother complaining in the backseat as ambulances went by and fuel trucks came out to the highway to service cars running out of gas. The last word is that they made it as far as Lufkin, a 2.5 hour drive that took them all day. Having already lost Gulfport to the winds I’m not keen at all about watching Port Arthur go under water, or Sabine Pass, even though I’ve always known that a bad storm would damage them eventually, considering that they are only a few feet above sea level and the Port Arthur levee can only hold back a seventeen foot surge at best. The Baytown refineries all closed a few days ago, which is unprecedented, and if my father is headed out that probably means that Beaumont’s Exxon-Mobil plant shut down as well.

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