Rita Rumbles in the Gulf

By: Mark Strassman
By: Mark Strassman

In Florida, Rita was no Katrina, no catastrophe, but a category two hurricane that brushed against the Florida Keys washing out the two-lane lifeline to the mainland and flooding out people like Jackie Hanna.

Jackie says, "It could have been worse. We could have lost our whole house.”

But now, Rita will grow more ominous out in the Gulf of Mexico. With all that warm water it’s fuel for the storm to grow even bigger and meaner.

By Friday, forecasters say Rita will strike again as a major hurricane, probably somewhere along the Texas coast.

"Future track on where this is, gonna to be farther west than Katrina, but every indication is this is gonna be another hurricane disaster.”

So along the Texas Gulf Coast, there's high anxiety. Galveston ordered a mandatory evacuation.

Danny Owens, a Galveston evacuee, says, “Nobody's going to take a chance. Everybody's a little bit scared right now because of the Katrina thing.”

Houston relocated thousands of Katrina refugees to three other states, and what about FEMA? Embarrassed by its Katrina response, the agency insists it's ready for Rita with better communications and more recovery teams and soldiers in place before the hurricane strikes.

David Paulison, acting FEMA director, says, "I'm gonna make sure we have enough resources on the ground to deal with whatever we have to deal with.”

Texas has even recalled hundreds of its emergency workers helping other states with Katrina because they may be needed at home. No one wants another double disaster of a terrible storm followed by a terrible response.


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