Covering Rita: Best and Worst

Video: Life on the Road

Sept. 28, 2005

*Worst Run-In With Local Wildlife:

Just before a live shot on someone's front lawn the Sunday after the storm, I felt a pinch on my ankle. I looked down and saw fire ants swarming over my boots and up my legs. I began wildly swiping them off as I heard the toss in my ear "Now let's go to FOX News Correspondent Rick Leventhal who's live in Lake Charles, Louisiana..." I explained that I was being bitten by fire ants and finished knocking them off. I tried to stand in the street after that.

*Best Near-Miss With Local Wildlife:

When we walked out of the back of the hotel before dawn Sunday, I noticed a snake on the sidewalk next to our SUV. It was a rattlesnake. There was a splotch of blood where its head used to be. I don't know who took the rattler out, but I'd like to thank them.

*Worst Near-Miss in the Storm:

The inner tread of the right front tire on our rental truck was completely bald, with steel belts shining through. I discovered this Friday night, after we'd driven hundreds of miles at high speeds in the heavily loaded vehicle. We could've easily had a blowout and suffered severe injuries, or worse. I heartily recommend everyone check the tires on rental vehicles before driving them off the lot.

*Best Hot Meal of the Week:
Shrimp and steak cooked by the staff of the hotel on Saturday night

*Best Ready-To-Eat Hurricane Food:

Thompson's Beef Jerky (I prefer the Teriyaki flavor)

*Second Best Ready-To-Eat Hurricane Food:

Kellogg’s Breakfast Bars & Zone Bars

*Third Best Ready-To-Eat Hurricane Food:

Pringles Potato Chips

*Scariest Moment:

Getting knocked violently backwards by a powerful gust towards a cable-wire chest-high fence on the top deck of the parking garage. Visions of a long fall haunted me for a while after.

*Worst Reason To Lose Our Live Signal:

Our engineers borrowed a cable reel from a local affiliate's truck when ours got pinched in a door. Some of the people working for that affiliate apparently didn't know the engineers had borrowed their cable. At the tail end of a live shot in the 7 a.m. hour, one of their technicians started disconnecting the cable. Some harsh words were exchanged, along with apologies. It took our guys a half hour or so to run out a new line from the truck to the parking garage roof and get us back on the air.

*Best Reason To Go Back to Lake Charles:

The L'Auberge du Lac Casino & Hotel. It's a gorgeous facility, and the people we met there and everywhere else in town were extremely generous and friendly.

Click here to e-mail Rick.


Keep up the great work. We are waiting to see what happened to our home in Holly Beach. We said good bye to our friends and the beach on Thursday morning.

Holly Beach, LA


I stayed awake most all night watching your coverage and praying for you, Hollywood, the sat truck guy, and the truck that kept bouncing around. I kept watching today, to see how you survived. I guess I did doze off somewhere along the line and woke up to Cavuto and crew and not a word about you! Geraldo was there, and all the others, but no Rick! Pray you are safe -- probably sacked out all day, which would be great for you, and hopefully a hot shower and hot food (with no PB).

Your coverage is always the best ! Iraq, MS, NY, TX, LA, wherever.


I trust your reporting. Thanks for being a "regular" guy and not one of those types that's worried about their hair all the time!


Great job last night in Lake Charles, by the way. I would be perfectly happy to have you guys reporting while looking out a window. I personally don't need you to risk your lives to show me pictures of wind and rain….. We didn't lose power until around 2:30, so we were up watching FNC.


Hey Rick,

Thanks for going into detail on your Rita tracking adventure. Sometimes it seems to us viewers that field reporters just magically appear on TV (ala Star Trek transporters). Your schedule breakdown puts it into perspective and make us realize that reporting is not all fun and fame.

Based on your rundown, I can say it paid off. Your Lake Charles coverage was primo! Kudos and thanks to you, "Hollywood", your field producer(s) and support staff for a job well done and for providing such dramatic images.

J. Ariel


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.