My brother and I were contracted to shoot video of Hurricane Rita for the Weather Channel. I took some photos along the way to document the trip.
Early video: Dairy Queen Damage during Hurricane Rita in Port Arthur, Texas
I left Raleigh on Thursday evening on a last minute flight into Houston. Before boarding, a Continental Airlines woman made an announcement that all connecting flights were cancelled out of IAH. This turned out to be partially false. Between the people who just didn't show up and those who decided not to get on the plane, there were about 15 people on the flight. The 737 was originally booked full.
Approaching Houston, the jammed interstates with evacuees were impressive to see from the air.
Once on the ground, I noticed the majority of departing flights were cancelled.
The next morning, the freeways around the Houston area were dead.
We headed to Port Arthur, Texas to get some before the storm video. The old portion of downtown was pretty run down to begin with.
A lone soul ventured out and around Port Arthur's 'World Trade' building.
There were many oil refineries around the city. The flaming stacks were stretched by the gusting winds.
Once darkness fell in Port Arthur, the winds really began to intensify. We traveled around to some retail districts and captured some dramatic video of a Dairy Queen being damaged and a Wendy's sign being blown out, to name a few examples. (You may have seen these on TWC.)
We found a Holiday Inn Express in Port Arthur that still had power and an internet connection that we could use. There were a few people there hoping to ride out the storm.
The flags outside didn't hold up well to the battering winds.
We decided to head slightly inland to downtown Beaumont, TX for the aproaching eyewall. The winds progressively worsened. Reports stated some gusting over 90 MPH at this time. Most of the time I shot video, but I grabbed a still here and there. CNN was broadcasting several hundred feet away from us here.
To stay safe, we found a concrete parking deck at a hospital for the eyewall. MSNBC was also taking cover and reporting at this location.
Winds gusted over 105 MPH in Beaumont.
After less than an hour of sleep, we headed out to survey the damage. Things didn't look good. The parking deck we hunkered down in became an island.
We managed to drive through the water and into a neighborhood and surrounding areas. The damage was quite surreal.
After a few aftermath shots locally, we traveled out to the highways. Things were not any better around there.
Beaumont is actually quite a substantial town. I hadn't even heard of it before.
Traveling on the interstate, damage was evident everywhere.
Apparently, Rita has something against the lowercase "h".
Not sure on that one there:
Out further on I-10 west, high tension power lines had collasped. Pretty frightening what those could do.
I'm pretty tired and didn't proofread, so I hope everything is legible! Thanks for viewing.