Rita Travel: Chasing Her Down

Sept. 22, 2005 5:27 a.m.

For anyone wondering what it's like covering a hurricane, or trying to, here's an abbreviated schedule of travel and events over the past few days as we try to stay equipped and best position ourselves for the wrath of Rita.

Monday afternoon/evening:

Battle NYC rush hour traffic for 7:15 p.m. flight JFK-Miami. Leave crew waiting for bags while I rent the biggest SUV Hertz will provide. Load Expedition with eight hard cases of equipment, go midnight shopping for food, water, breakfast bars and supplies. Stay overnight at South Beach Marriott.

Tuesday AM:

Check out, head towards the Keys. Stop in Florida City, top off tank, buy more water, drive more than 100 miles to Marathon.

Arrive 11:15 a.m. Live shots begin soon after. We set up on dock behind Holiday Inn and visit surrounding neighborhoods between hits. Hotel staff cooks us hot dinner. Last live at 10 p.m. via videophone. Storm turns west, spares Marathon, heading into Gulf of Mexico towards Texas. We break down, pack up, and check out. Two-plus hour drive to Hard Rock Hotel near Ft. Lauderdale.

Wednesday AM:

Check out, drive to MIA, return SUV, catch flight to Houston. Same rental car drill. Negotiate another Expedition. Load up gear, more shopping at Oshmans (sleeping bags, waterproof boots, flashlights, two-way radios, socks, other supplies), REI (hand-held wind speed device), Super Wal-Mart (big cooler, microwave, microwaveable meals, bread, jelly, snacks, sodas) and CVS (water, Advil, and more ready-to-heat food).

We eat at a steak house, then drive 60 miles south to Lake Jackson, near Freeport. Check in to Comfort Suites, check out three and a half hours later.

Thursday, 4:30 a.m.:

Drive to Surfside Beach. Iron-out technical problems, begin hourly hits at 6 a.m.. Between shots, scout open gas station with no lines just over bridge. Top off tank, buy and fill eight extra plastic gas cans, strap them in plastic case to roof rack. Buy peanut butter and more water and ice. Drive to firehouse in Lake Jackson, secure back-up live location for Friday, and then back to beach. One of our engineers borrows truck, makes several runs to the gas station, filling more cans with diesel and topping off Sat truck. It takes three trips. He tops off our tank too.

Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.:

Check in to Days Inn in Clute, Texas. Check out 3 a.m., drive thru Galveston towards Texas/Louisiana border and on to Lake Charles to find secure location to cover Rita's arrival.

Lives scheduled to begin 11 a.m. today...

Four days, four nights, five hotels, two sit-down meals, hundreds of miles driven in two different vehicles, dozens of live shots and as-lives from multiple locations, and we still haven't been hit hard by the storm. That will most likely happen tonight...

Click here to e-mail Rick.


Your coverage of Hurricane Rita's landfall has kept me glued to my TV literally all night. I was very glad to see you had somewhere close by to go for some shelter. Thanks for another great job, and props to Hollywood and the sat truck guy for keeping you on air all night long!

Washington, DC

Dear Rick:

I believe you and your crew at Lake Charles, LA are doing the BEST coverage of Hurricane Rita from your stairwell! Please be safe and get some needed rest! I'm a night owl and it's 3:11 AM Pacific time. Every time you are on, I'm watching!

Fox News is the BEST!

Palm Springs, CA


What an effort! You are marvelous! My thanks to Hollywood and you're staff, also!

Arlington, Ma.

No longer a Larry King fan!!


I am clicking around watching the various reports, your’s is the best! Hang in there. Thanks.



You are very brave person. I think Rita will hit hard. I am very concerned for you and your crew. I hope you enough peanut butter, Beef jerky, drinks and etc. Please! Be careful and safe.


Personal stories of yourself and co-workers, like the fuel story and getting peanut butter, I find interesting for some crazy reason. There is just so much that can be said about how high the water will come in and at what time and where. It's the moment-by-moment getting through the situation I find appealing.

New Albany, Miss.
Why am I not surprised you headed east to be closer to where the storm will most likely hit?! Rick, do what you do best - but please be safe! You're in my prayers!

Salem, MA

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

Maybe you can use the peanut butter to hold ya'll onto the roof of the vehicle when the winds get too strong!



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