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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Monday, September 26, 2005

Some Random Thoughts on Hurricane Rita

After having my life put on hold for the past few days due to Hurricane Rita I am finally getting home and online again.

Like approximately a million other residents of Houston my family and I also decided to evacuate.

My mother Linda and my sister Kathryn and I (along with our Golden Retriever Sam) left at 10pm on Weds. September 21st. By 6am on Thurs. September 22nd we had only made it a total of about 30 miles to Spring just barely out of the Houston City Limits. It took us 8 hours to drive only 30 miles with all of the traffic. We saw numerous vehicles out of gas or stranded on the side of the road. We were very concerned about running out of gas before we reached our intended destination of Dallas.

Fortunately for us we were able to stay at the home of St. Jonah parishioners Steven and Joan-Marie Pennings. They were very gracious to open up their home and my family and I are extremely grateful.

The hurricane came onshore in Sabine Pass, the site of an old Civil War battle, early in the morning on Saturday September 24th. Even in Spring we felt some of the effects. There was a lot of wind and a fair bit of rain. The winds were gusting quite strong at times and several tree branches were knocked down throughout the neighborhood. We lost power around 2am that night.

The next day we had a relatively easy ride home. On the way we noticed a few trees and fences that had been blown down. Our house was fine but there was no power...thus no air conditioning. Since the forecast called for temperatures in the upper 90's the following day we opted to "evacuate" again.

We were able to spend the night at the air-conditioned home of some friends of the family and members of my mother's church. Once again we are extremely grateful to Chuck and Betty Vonderlin for opening their home to us.

The next day we arrived home to find power and air-conditioning. It never hurts to have a lineman for CenterPoint Energy as a next door neighbor. : )

Later that day I was finally able to come home to my apartment and thankfully I also had power.

It certainly seems that the Houston/Galveston area dodged a bullet with the storm turning to the east. What really bothers me though is when I see headlines that downplay the damage to southeast Texas. Those people living in and around Sabine Pass and in the Beaumont and Port Arthur areas and further east got hit hard. Real hard. The media, though, only seems to be covering the Houston/Galveston area or the towns in Louisiana that also got hit hard. The "Golden Triangle" area seems to be forgotten.

I admit I am a little sensitive to this because most of my extended family live in these areas. Everyone was able to evacuate but it will likely be weeks before they are allowed to come home. Though I am praying that their homes are safe it is very likely that most of them suffered damage. Catastrophic damage is a very real possibility I am afraid.

The communities of Beaumont, Bridge City, Nederland, Orange, Port Arthur and Port Neches deserve our attention and support as well in this time of need. I consider many of these towns to be a part of my stomping grounds having spent considerable time in those communities during my childhood.

In fact my grandmother still owns a home on 3rd Street in Port Neches and my father is buried just a few blocks away in Oak Bluff Cemetery next to the Neches River.

So for me these towns are also home.


Blogger BirdBrained said...


I am so glad to see someone is acknowledging the media's lack of attention for Rita. I'm from Nederland (my husband's grandmother is also buried in Oak Bluff) and we were extremely lucky to have gotten off with only one broken window and the roof ripped off our shed. The tree in back took some damage, but is still standing. However, my brother's house was completely destroyed, and I'd say close to 15% of the homes in Orange were destroyed from all the falling pine trees. Nederland and Beaumont had a lot of damage, but Orange took the brunt of it. It is horrible to see nothing but Katrina everywhere when we suffered nearly as badly.

What's worse, when we were evacuated to Dallas - where we ended up for 2 1/2 weeks - we heard a couple there discussing Rita, not knowing we were evacuees. They said that there was TOO MUCH media coverage, that no damage had been done. They were sick of hearing about Rita and wish the evacuees would just go home. They compared us to the Katrina evacuees, saying that we were just looking for handouts. Incidentally, we stayed with friends, not in a shelter, as did most of the evacuees from here.

It sickened me to hear that, but it's unfortunately been the prevailing attitude, even with the Red Cross and FEMA.

Thanks for standing up for Southeast Texas. Glad to know you're a part of it.

9:34 PM  

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