Melanie Moore
Melanie Moore of Alexandria, La. sent this image: "This oak tree fell on my mother's house during the high winds and rains experienced during Hurricane Rita."
updated 9/29/2005 2:30:43 PM ET 2005-09-29T18:30:43

MSNBC is asking readers to share their experiences from Hurricane Rita. To read more about how people prepared for Hurricane Rita, click here.

Strange things afoot after storm
As my family and I watched news and weather reports last week, we debated evacuation. My home in Channelview sits in Evacuation Zone 3. I have lived there for over 30 years and it survived very high winds from Alicia and did not flood during Allison. Would the third hit be the devastating blow? My daughter and son-in-law are with me. They evacuated August 27 from Metairie, La., 11 days after she had major surgery, and have not be able to return yet. We got boxes of food and water ready, packed clothes and first aid supplies, and had plenty of flashlights and batteries, and food was ready for their two cats and my dog. But as we watched the thousands and thousands of people on the highways, we felt less and less like leaving. Do we take our chances in the house and hope the storm moves up the coast, or do we chance the highways?

We had no where we could stay except in Liberty, Texas, which would not have been a bright idea. By Friday morning, the path of the storm was moving. We decided to gamble. Stay at the house and hope we get only the "clean" side. So, we "hunkered" down. We had supplies for several days. Two other people came to stay with us and we took in the tiny dog next door whose family had left it outside when they evacuated Thursday. It weighs about seven pounds and we did want to see it fly through the air. As everyone else slept, my son-in-law watched the winds. We got very little rain but some really strong wind gusts. House is intact, but had tons of trash to clean up. We did not loose power or cable. However, Tuesday night during a rolling black out, we lost power and not only have partial power. Seems a line fuse blew. That was two days ago and we still live in a partially dark home. Some rooms have full power, some none and some very little. And strange things happen: you can push the "on" button for the dryer and the garage door opener light turns on. Go figure. My daughter is able to work for her company from my home but my son-in-law is a sportscaster for a New Orleans radio station and they are still broadcasting as an unified emergency network, so he is not working. All in all, we are very lucky. One surgery, two hurricanes later, the family, two cats, my dog and the neighbor's dog are well. That is all we could ask for. As the saying goes: I wept because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet. We do not weep. We are the lucky ones.
--Marlene Moulder, Channelview, Texas

Terrebonne in trouble
Terrebonne Parish in SE LA is in trouble...terrible, terrible trouble and we can not seem to get anyone to notice. The entire southern part of our parish is underwater with approximately 10-15 thousand people evacuated from their homes. After Katrina we were there for the people of New Orleans...who is there for us? Our entire levee system was breached. It was mandated that the Corp of Engineer complete a study by the year 2001 and it still is not complete. One more hurricane and there will be a good chance there will be no more SE Louisiana!
--Karen LeCompte, Houma, La.

A tiring, but enlightening experience
I am currently at work at one of the only hospitals that remained open throughout the storm in SWLA. A team of essential personnel rode out the storm with the patients who could or would not evacuate. We made it through with minimal damage to our rural hospital. We have been treating people in our E.R. from all over the south. We are currently running on an emergency generator, and have been since Friday night. Our conditions are not very comfortable, but we have worked together as a team and remained here for the citizens of the area. I can truly say that it has been a very tiring, but enlightening experience.
--Martha Langley, Kinder, La.

After a wild weekend, a chance to relax
It's been a wild weekend. Between helping at the shelter for senior citizens from the Calcasieu Council on Aging, hunkering down during the storm, cleaning up and doing temporary repairs at my house, it has been busy. I finally had a chance to sit down last night to relax on my front porch with a glass of wine and listen to the sounds of the night...if I listen carefully I can hear the crickets chirping beneath the roar of generators; a mosquito buzzes in my ear. It's too hot go inside, so I'll sit outside awhile longer. I can truly appreciate why people used to sleep on screened porches in the summer down here. We'll be without power for a while, but it could be a lot worse. The moon and stars shine really bright without all the ambient light to obscure them.
--Tim Kindler, DeRidder, La.

As our family did before, we will rebuild
My family has owned several beach homes and property in Holly Beach, La.,  since the late 1940's, one which has been passed down from generation to generation and for decades has been the location of our family reunion's known as "Cousins Day". Every year we would have family come from all over to meet at a small beach house called "Shorty's Shack" named after my mother's uncle who originally built the small place on the Cajun Riviera with a large porch that over looked the Gulf. Last night as we watched MSNBC we were for the first time able to see the destruction that has destroyed the entire community of Holly Beach leaving nothing but sticks where homes once stood. This is not the first time the home was destroyed, in 1957 Hurricane Audrey had the same effect as Hurricane Rita, leaving the community with out one structure standing. As my grandfather, great aunts, uncles and other family members did in 1961, we will rebuild our little place with the big porch so we can once again have our family reunions, holidays and a peaceful getaway at our favorite place on the Gulf, The Cajun Rivera.
--Kenneth Durham, Houston, Texas

Report from Lake Charles
We are in Lake Charles, La. We stayed in a building built as a storm shelter with a generator. It is cinder block with few windows but the sounds during the early morning hours of Saturday were frightening. We lost power before midnight Friday and have no water, but we are so much better off than many. I have been working with the Moss Bluff Hurricane Relief Center just north of Lake Charles (where we live). We have been able to help approximately 4,000 Katrina evacuees get food, water, baby needs, hygiene products, even housing and jobs. Now it feels strange to be on the other side, an evacuee myself. We went home to check on things Saturday, noon. There are trees and power lines down everywhere, but the further north you go the better things looked. We had to park the car and walk 3/4 mile to get to our house because the roads were blocked. Half the trees in our yard are down, but only one hit the house and it was just our front porch. We lost the roof over our sunroom but had very little other damage. Traveling down Ryan Street and out Hwy 14 yesterday was like following a wagon trail. The road was so covered in leaves, all you could see was the two cleared paths from previous car tires, winding their way around limbs, whole trees and power lines. The National Guard is here, cutting away trees and clearing roads quickly. The local police are out in force. 3 out of 4 cars on the roads are law enforcement. We have seen semi trucks, and Red Cross in caravans heading for Texas on the nearby interstate, but Louisiana was hit much harder. Even the news media seems to be focusing on Texas... I am working with the churches and pastors from all over the country who helped us help others from Katrina. We plan to reopen the Moss Bluff Hurricane Relief Center sometime Monday with all the supplies we can find. God has done an awesome work through his children and it is to Him we look for help now.
--Peggy Jones, Moss Bluff, Louisiana

Double blow
We evacuated our Buras, La., home (Plaquemines Parish) on Aug. 27 to stay with our son and his family in Baton Rouge. When we heard/saw the news of Katrina's making landfall across our property we thought, ‘Well we still have our small camp at Holly Beach in Cameron Parish.’ We went to Holly Beach to set up housekeeping with my 87-year old mother, and our dog Tchoupitoulas (named for a street in New Orleans). After a week, we evacuated once again because of Rita. Now we are indeed homeless. We are once again at our son's home. this time we must relocate with my mom, our dog, and now my husband's parents and brother's family who were permanent residents of Holly Beach.
--Elaine Cox, Baton Rouge, La.

Feeling Katrita
I live in Thibodaux La., between the two paths of the hurricanes. I just call them Katrita because it seemed like a total month of anguish and anxiety. My wife, my son, our little dashound, and I evacuated for Katrina. It just looked too dangerous to stay in Thibodaux. We left the day before, not having reservations at a hotel, trying to avoid the traffic, going north on Interstate 49 toward Shreveport. We finally found a room in Tyler Texas. We stayed there until Tuesday, then headed back to Thibodaux. When we got back we had no power so we had to pull the generator out of the shed and get it running quickly so we would not loose everything in the freezer. Every day without power was an adventure. I would get up early in the morning to go out and search for gas (10 gallons per day) to run the generator. When you leave on the gas safari you never know how far you will have to go, or how long you will have to wait in line, if they don't run out of gas before you get to the front of the line. Then after you find gas you have to go out and do the same search for food. Never finding much of what your looking for as far as food because everyone seems to be looking for the same food that none of the stores have because when the power went out they lost everything in the coolers (meat, milk, bread are in short supply). Luckily we had a generator so ice was one thing we didn't need that many others did.

All this time we're spending extra money we can't spare and at the same time not making any money because there is no power at work. For Rita fortunately I only missed one day of work. This time we did not evacuate because we could not afford to spend more money on gas and hotel rooms. So we stayed home and hoped it would miss us. Then when the weather started getting bad we were wondering if staying was a bad idea. The power went out at midnight and came back on before daylight so I didn’t have to start the generator. We used to think our electric bill was high, until we had to live on generator power for a week after Katrina (five times the cost for half the electricity). All of this adds up to a whole lot of STRESS. We hope we never have to go through another month like this one, and we will never forget this one.
--Farrell J. Trosclair, Thibodaux La.

No serious damage in Lafayette
Here in Lafayette, we got through the storm just fine and were very surprised because we never lost electrical power in our neighborhood.  It got really bad between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. with hard rains and sustained winds between 50-60 mph with gusts as high as 80 mph.  Right now we are still getting moderate to heavy rains and winds are sustained at 30-40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.  We prepared very well for this storm as have plenty of food, water, batteries and a generator with 20 gallons of gas to fuel it.  Our house looks to have lost a few shingles on the roof but no other serious damage. 
--Lena Styles, Lafayette, La.

Craziness should be expected
We made it through unscathed in north Houston. The wind was a little scary at its worst point this morning, but the old trees around here stayed put. We weren't too worried after we saw Rita veer east on Thursday night. But people - puh-leeeeeeease. You can't expect to live in a metro area with 7 million people and expect to get out of town (along with half of those people) at normal speeds. You see the traffic on a normal Friday afternoon! The mayor and Judge Eckels did a FABULOUS job. Sure, there will always be room for improvement and a near miss like Rita will give them the opportunity to tweak their plans. The big problem was the run on gas. 4 million people filled up their cars and left. Only 1.2 million of those were actually in evacuation areas. Would this have happened had we not seen the disastrous reaction to the hurricane in post-Katrina New Orleans? Heck no. People were scared. A Cat 5 hurricane (as of Wednesday) with the small possibility that the citizens of this city would lose their mind and go postal like we saw with the social breakdown in NOLA - Houstonians got the heck out of dodge. I really think the only thing they could improve is to have fuel supplies stashed around the state/city for mobilization. There is NO way to alleviate the traffic issues of a mass evacuation. NO way. Having fuel supplies to keep motorists moving - and making sure motorists who don't need to leave understand that. We had people 100 miles inland evacuating! Of course there were problems.
-- Shawnda, Houston, Texas

Impressive storm, little damage
I live in The Woodlands which is a master planned community 45 miles from Houston and 10 miles or so from Conroe. We have been very lucky here because the worst that happened was that our power went out at about 2:30 AM and was turned back on at about 1 PM today. The wind from the hurricane was impressive all the way out here our pool and backyard were covered in leaves, pine needles and a few tree limbs but overall we were very lucky.
--Aaron Rice,  The Woodlands, Texas

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