Saturday, September 24, 2005

Reports from the Front

Steve Bates reports from his vantage point in Houston on the affects of what is now Tropical Storm Rita.

I got an e-mail from a friend in the Dallas area at 12:45 p.m. ET today:

Latest news is no gas in the area for miles. Everyone panicked all at once. I guess that’s a good thing since it doesn’t extend the panic, but a quick rush can be as deadly. Even in the upper crust of suburbia that is haughty West mckinney (Stonebridge Ranch – excessively Republican, apartment homes from $150k up to gaudy $3.5mln mansions), the cops had to be called out to quell a riot when several gas stations on that side of town ran out of gas thursday. You’ve heard about the bus fire on I-45. We got to watch live coverage of that all morning Friday; shut down I-45 for 4 hours [and] backed up traffic for over 20 miles. Poor bus driver thought he was doing the right thing by getting to the shoulder, but that just caught the grass on fire and made it impossible to rescue folks still inside. They interviewed one survivor and he said smoke started filling up the bus so thickly they couldn’t see their seat mate. The bus driver pulled about 10 to safety and some motorists stopped to help until the grass fire kept them from getting to the door of the bus. They believe most died from smoke inhalation first.

As for where we are (35 miles NE of Dallas) it’s cloudy and 83, barometric pressure has been falling since midnight, wind has increased over the past 3 hours, but nothing stronger than 25 mph gusts for now, but sustained has increased to about 15. We are hoping for about 1-3 inches of rain.

It sounds as if Dallas is going to get about the same treatment from Rita as we did here in Miami last Tuesday. If that’s the worst they get, they’re very fortunate.