Deep East Texas Suffers Brunt Of Rita's Wrath, One Killed - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

09/24/05-Lufkin

Deep East Texas Suffers Brunt Of Rita's Wrath, One Killed

Wind gusts to hurricane force, and everything that goes with Rita slammed Deep East Texas. With gas stations nearly flying apart -- with rising water -- The prayer is that Rita can just leave. Driving was nearly impossible. And some buildings suffered major damage. Those inside watched in awe, but counted themselves so very lucky.

The most dangerous threat for many, and deadly for one man in Hudson were the falling trees.  They weighed thousands of pounds in some cases, and were sent crashing down on homes and cars.

Late in the day, the winds subsided.  And for the estimated hundred thousand evacuees from the coast and the hundreds at the Stephen F. Austin State University Gymnasium, there was relief the damage along the coast wasn't worse.

"They drove by our house.  It's intact," says one woman returning Sunday to the coast.  "Our bushes, It doesn't look like we have any water [in our home.]"

No water in their homes is a relief, but Saturday may be another type of storm.  As millions of people start to stream home, many are still heading into a disaster area.

"If it's not the rain, it's the gusty winds I'm concerned with," said one man.

"I understand there are thousands of cars on the road. There is still a danger of flooding, all the way to Galveston County," noted another.

But can they get home?  Just like when they arrived,  fuel was short or nowhere to be found.  It could be that way again on the return trip.

"If it's not available, we'll be stranded again," said a driver.

As folks across all parts of Texas pick up the pieces, get back to normal, and pray for no more hurricanes, they're thankful that Rita was no Katrina.

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