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calendar   Wednesday - September 21, 2005

Another Monster Grows

imageimageRita Strengthens to Category 3 Hurricane
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP)

Hurricane Rita strengthened into a Category 3 storm packing 120 mph winds as it churned into the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday, deepening concerns that the storm could target Texas and already-battered Louisiana by week’s end. Forecasters warned that the storm could further intensify, sparking an order for mandatory evacuations in New Orleans and Galveston, Texas. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff urged residents to heed calls for evacuation Wednesday.

“The lesson is that when the storm hits, the best place to be is to be out of the path of the storm,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “There’s plenty of (advance) notice about Rita.” Acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison said the agency has aircraft and buses available to evacuate residents of areas the hurricane might hit. Rescue teams and truckloads of ice, water and prepared meals were being sent to Texas and Florida. “I strongly urge Gulf coast residents to pay attention” to the storm, he said.

Stung by criticism of the government’s slow initial response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush signed an emergency declaration for Florida and spoke with Texas Gov. Rick Perry about planning for the storm’s landfall. Perry said Texans are taking the warnings seriously. “I think Texas is prepared as any state in the nation,” he told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday. Rita created relatively few problems along the Florida Keys, where thousands of relieved residents who evacuated are expected to begin returning in earnest on Wednesday.

During daytime hours, several stretches of the Keys highway, U.S. 1, were barricaded because of water and debris; by nightfall, only one small problem area remained and the entire highway was passable, the Florida Highway Patrol said. There were reports of localized flooding, and some sections of the Lower Keys were still without power early Wednesday. But the storm’s raging eye did not hit land. “It was fairly nothing,” said Gary Wood, who owns a bar in Marathon, about 45 miles northeast of Key West. “It came through and had a good stiff wind, but that was about it.”

In Key Colony Beach, an oceanfront island off Marathon, Mayor Clyde Burnett said a restaurant and hotel were damaged by water and wind, but that widespread problems simply didn’t arrive as expected. Visitors ordered out of the Keys will be invited back Friday, and virtually all other voluntary evacuation orders in South Florida were lifted after Rita roared past. Now, all eyes following Rita are turning toward the Gulf—where the hurricane is causing new anxiety among Katrina victims in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

At 5 a.m. EDT, Rita’s eye was about 175 miles west of Key West. The storm was moving west at 14 mph—a track that kept the most destructive winds at sea and away from Key West. Maximum sustained winds increased to near 120 mph. “There’s still plenty of warm water that it needs to move over in the next couple days. The forecast is favorable for further intensification,” said Michelle Mainelli, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.

Hmmmmm ... Katrina chased them out of New Orleans to Houston. Now Rita is chasing them out of Houston. Is it just possible that perhaps God is extremely upset with someone in New Orleans and is out to get them? I wonder who ticked off the Big Guy and can we find them and just sacrifice them to get get some relief?


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/21/2005 at 07:01 AM   
Filed Under: • Climate-Weather •  
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