Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Hurricane Rita - 8 years Ago
Hurricane Rita hit 8 years ago. Me, Reggie Johnson, and Jesse Gomez rode the storm out. We watched about 130am our neighbor's houses burning to the ground - the wind was so strong the rain was laying and falling horizontally. We could hear the crashing sounds of, what we later learned was trees falling all around. The metal roof from the old Carroll Wallace Funeral Home blew our way - damaging our store, causing rain to come in and damage everything in it. My van windows had been blown out and water was about 5" thick inside - soaking the carpeting and seats. We had siding damages, roof damages, fences down - in the break of the dawn - I could see total devastation. I was overwhelmed. I rounded the corner of Park and Craig - I saw the American Flag still waving at the VFW hall down the street - seeing the flag - brought hope. The wind was no more. It felt as if there wasn't an ounce of air to breathe. Hurricane Rita had sucked it all out, it felt.
I didn't know which foot to put in front of the other. Friends called - friends and family came bringing supplies and food. I fed 14 people in this neighborhood 3 meals a day for 10 days before Red Cross came in. I was furious that the family of a 90 year old who lived next door. They left her here to ride out the storm, alone. She was so afraid the next morning when she came out - her lips were white. We took her in. Her family came back 7 days later.
We slept on the concrete under the patio covering at night with mosquitos swarming us - just trying to stay cool.
I will forever be grateful to Jerry & Kathy Wolford, as well as their friend who came with a dozer and worked with us for almost a week - cleaning up, packing up, and trying to save what they could. Depression set in. It has taken a long time to overcome the losses - and to make repairs - and, still, not all of the repairs are made.
I'm not alone in the "not all repairs are made" - I still hear people trying to recoup and repair. Many houses and businesses were torn down by the City after this. The City of Beaumont, does not make proper notifications when they are going to tear down your properties. I had 3 that the city tore down - without my knowledge - 2 - not a thing wrong. The City was given FEMA Grant money - but yet, wants to charge folks for the demolitions. Some of the demolitions cost more than the value of the property. Many of these homes could have been repaired. The young lady who suggests these tear downs - has no degree in architecture - but yet - it's all approved. Hurricane Rita was costly - in many ways for many people.
Yet, we have all survived. We are alive, material things can be replaced - maybe not all of them - but we are at least alive to tell the story.