Story Circle Network

Catastrophe, Survival, and Recovery: Stories from the Storms

Rita Rips By
Joyce Boatright, Houston TX

What would you do if you saw computer models of your coastline—a mere 55 miles away—totally submerged? I hate to admit it, but I just stayed glued to my television in some kind of "Twilight Zone" state of mindlessness. I guess I would still be there if the weatherman hadn't said, "If you can get out, whether or you are in one of the mandatory evacuation zones, you probably should do it now." So I started unplugging everything electrical and packed a bag for me and my dog, grabbed several water bottles and headed out of town about 11:30 on Wednesday night, which was 2 whole days before Rita was scheduled to hit. It took eight hours to get to the edge of Houston (about 20 miles).

By then I decided to hit the back roads and head north on any farm-to-market road. I finally got far enough north that I could head west and then get into San Antonio by coming down instead of across Texas. It wasn't until I was safe at my son's house that I allowed myself to feel my feelings. I am amazed how well-honed my denial system is! And then I discovered that I had left my suitcase... argh! (Thank commerce and the great economy for WalMart.)

After the hurricane turned to Beaumont (a mere 90 miles east of Houston), I sighed relief for me and a prayer for those in Rita's path. Since Houston was on the "clean" side of the hurricane, even though we were on the fringe, we only had $31 million damage for the entire city instead of billions!

I came home last night—got home around 2 a.m. this morning, again by taking the backroads because on I-10 cars were packed like sardines in a can. One of my neighbors was already back and sweeping off the debris from the sidewalks, street gutters, etc. My other neighbor is not back yet and she has a tree that has split apart and is leaning on my roof. There is no great damage though, so I think we have been greatly graced. The college will be closed until Wednesday so I have two days to put things back and reflect upon what has happened.

The good news is that we weathered the storm.

I left all my "things" here because in the Great Design, I let go of things rather easily (it's people I hang on to, even after they have moved out of my life), but I have to tell you, it's nice to be home and among my own books and art and furniture... especially my king-size bed with the pillowtop mattress!

Last updated: 10/24/05