Rita Not So Hospitable

Sept. 21, 2005

We're on our way south on Highway 288 from Houston to Freeport in a rented Ford Expedition to cover the arrival of Hurricane Rita (search).

The vehicle is completely packed with gear and supplies, with just enough room left for me, producer Maryam Sepehri and photographer "Hollywood" John Kisala.

Here's what we have:

— Eight hard cases of television equipment, including lights, tripod, a satellite videophone (search), battery chargers, cables and tape stock, along with a heavy metal collapsible dolly called the "Cartmaster."

— Three personal bags of luggage, plus two backpacks and my laptop case.

— A large cooler we just bought at Wal-Mart, along with several bags of food, snacks and a new microwave oven we'll run off the satellite truck.

— Three sleeping bags, three sleeping mats, and three new pairs of waterproof wading boots, along with flashlights, batteries, a Leatherman tool (search) and a hand-held atmospheric data device that measures barometric pressure, altitude and wind speed.

— 12 gallon jugs of water, one case of Gatorade, a couple of 12-packs of soda and energy drinks and many bags of beef jerky.

Here's what we don't have: extra fuel.

Most of the gas stations are closed or out of gas anyway, but at some point we're going to have to find a way to top off. We have about ¾ of a tank now, and we'll try to limit our driving.

Here's what else we don't have: a place to stay.

The hotel we booked for Wednesday night is shutting down Thursday morning and sending its employees home to evacuate. We're gonna spend Thursday afternoon scouting a safe location to sleep and ride out the storm.


Sept. 22, 2005 12:56 p.m.

Update: We found fuel.

Just over the causeway between Surfside and Freeport, a gas station/convenience store was still open Thursday morning, selling fuel and supplies.

We bought eight 1 and 2 gallon cans, filled them, put them inside a large plastic crate, and tied it down to the roof rack with rope and bungee cords. We also topped off the tank, and bought another case of bottled water, and two jars of peanut butter.

The guy who owns the store said he'd stay open as long as people were still evacuating over the bridge, and then he planned to pack up and head about 40 miles inland.

We're still not sure where we'll be overnight and Friday, but it won't be Surfside Beach, because the cops say they aren't letting ANYONE stay.

• Click here to e-mail Rick.


You've got a place to stay in West Houston. We've got 3 empty bedrooms, 2 if the front-yard tree falls into the house.

Houston, TX


I headed to Temple to find some jugs of water for my mom and brother. He is evacuating Rockport to Temple. Well we looked everywhere — Sam's, grocery stores, and Wal-mart. Water is a hot commodity! There was not even a small 8 oz. bottle to be found. I came back to my town of Cameron, and found the next-to-last case of water. Cameron as of 3:30 PM still has fuel, but there are many lines of evacuees stopping.

I am glad you are here, but sorry you have to cover my home state in such a crisis. Galveston has such strong history from the 1900 hurricane, we can only hope the beautiful city we love will not be damaged too bad. Watch out for the bay, there is a huge tendancy to flood there! Be careful, stay focused and liquidified!

Kathy V
Cameron, TX

Hey, Rick,

I enjoy your posts, and hope you and the crew can find a really safe place to withstand Rita.

Bethany Beach, DE


If you get to the Dallas area, it ain't much, but you and your crew are welcome to stay with me. Good thing you've got sleeping mats though... all I've got is plenty of floor space and an extra bathroom..


Hi Rick --

My girlfriend and I were glued to FOX throughout the Katrina coverage. And every time you came on she'd yell out "Here's Ricky-boy!" Yeah, you're a favorite. Your reporting is concise as you weave interesting anectdotes around it. Stay safe!

Bronx, NY


You did an awesome job in Mississippi after Katrina, and here you are a few short weeks later in my home state awaiting Rita. I know that once again FOX will provide the best coverage available — I just hope that we have the ability to watch it.

Round Rock, Texas

Yes, again I am glued to the T.V., watching FOX News and your coverage of Hurricane Rita. Please stay safe and good luck. You guys are nuts! A fan in Milwaukee, WI.


Rita is now a Category 5. You had better be very, very safe.


We're new to Houston and have never been through a hurricane. If the news has to be bad (hurricane, war, famine, Aggies lost), I want my bad news to come from you. Come to Houston.

Angela in Houston