Thursday, September 22, 2005
It's Looking Like Rita's Moving East
It's 5 p.m. here in Waco, and the latest news reports make it sound as though Hurricane Rita is going to hit further east of where the experts once predicted. Mrs. Muley just told me that she heard the eye of the hurricane is now projected to hit Lake Charles, La., instead of Galveston. This means that the Houston-Galveston area would still get rain, but nothing like they would have gotten with a direct hit.
Of course, the people in Lake Charles can't be too happy, and I've got to think a Louisiana landfall will bring enough rain to New Orleans to endanger the repaired levees. There really isn't a good alternative at this point. The good alternative would have been if this thing would have headed south and hit in a remote section of Mexico, where only some goats and lizards would have been affected.
Now the questions in Waco are a bit different than they were this morning. No. 1 is, "Will we get any rain at all out of this?" A little rain would be welcome, since we've had 100-degree temperatures and no rain for weeks here. Question No. 2 is, "How many refugees will pour into town looking for shelter?" Already, I've heard that Interstate 35 here is one big traffic jam, with people trying to head north toward Dallas. Colleagues at Baylor were gathered this afternoon, trying to figure out the best alternate routes home so they wouldn't have to get on the highway.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow or Saturday, things have changed around here. Scads of events have been postponed or canceled, including a big balloon glow and Christian concert at Baylor, a Heart Walk Saturday for the American Heart Association, and a church conference at Truett Seminary. Lots of high school football teams decided against canceling their games, so they're having them tonight instead of tomorrow night. I even heard that Texas A&M University decided to have their game tonight instead of Saturday.
Both my parents and my relatives in the Houston area tried to leave this morning to come to Waco, but after hours sitting virtually still in traffic, they turned around and came home. It's not as though they want to wait the storm out, it's just that, lacking helicopters, they have no realistic way of leaving that won't leave them exposed on a highway somewhere when the rains and winds hit. The news this afternoon told of one woman from Houston who's been on the road an entire day -- 24 hours straight -- and she's traveled only 150 miles along the Interstate. That's how bad it is, folks. Other news reports I've heard say drivers have gotten out of their cars on the Interstate and have created impromptu tailgate parties, throwing frisbees and sitting in lawn chairs. If you're stuck and can't move, why not?
I'm glad for everyone in Waco that we seem to have been spared the brunt of Hurricane Rita (the forecast only calls for a 50 percent chance of rain now on Saturday), but I realize that the ol' girl could turn back west and hit us bad anytime she chooses. And I know many others won't be this lucky, so I will continue to pray for those in her path -- wherever that ends up being.
I'll check in tomorrow when I have more news. Hope all of you are safe.