Sometime later, I heard some loud noises, like glass breaking and people in the hallway. My sister opened our door again and told us we needed to gather our stuff and get to the safe wall immediately. Some windows had broken and water was pouring into the building. I woke Eric up and we moved from the back of the building to the middle, near the safe wall. All of our belongings were put in one room, and all the evacuees were divided up among the available rooms near the safe wall. We ended up in Rachel’s room (with her brother, Dylan), along with my sister and niece and the family of another of the Jasper firemen. The wind sounded much louder here, and the building was creaking louder than ever. Quite frankly, I thought we were probably safer in the back of the building. I wasn’t sure about how safe this "safe wall" was.
I guess being in this cavernous building insulated us from hearing the noises of things being ripped up and destroyed outside. Good thing, as that would have probably sent me over the edge..:)
Eventually having 15 people in this tiny room got too claustrophobic for me, so Eric and I got up and moved down the hall to a much larger room. It was around 6 or 7 AM by this time, although it still felt like the dead of night. This room had a radio in it, tuned to the local radio station, KJAS, www.kjas.com. The station owner, announcer, reporter, and chief cook and bottle washer — Mike Lout — had managed to stay on the air all night long.
By this time, the worst of the storm has passed, and we were now in the eye of the storm. Mike, being the intrepid reporter that he is, felt it necessary to go out in his truck and do a live broadcast from the field to let the listeners know about the damage he encountered. Mike ventured out on the streets of Jasper, and what he reported wasn’t pretty. Trees were down all over the place, which wasn’t surprising, given that the timber industry is the primary industry in the area, and some buildings were completely destroyed, while others were untouched. I assume that some of the building damage may have come from tornadoes, for as soon as the primary winds and rain from the hurricane passed, we were under a tornado watch for the next several hours. That’s the great thing about living in Southeast Texas–if Mother Nature doesn’t get you the first time around, she creates some other natural disaster for round two..LOL
The winds were still fairly strong as Mike reported from the field, and apparently he had some very close calls with pieces of metal and debris that were whipping through the air, but managed to miss his truck as he drove around the area. Despite the obstacles, he made his rounds of the major highways in town, and told residents (by name) as he passed their homes about the condition of their homes and business owners (by name) about the condition of their businesses. Many of my friends have asked me if I lived in Mayberry when I lived in Jasper from 1998-2003, as everyone knows everyone else, as well as everyone else’s business..LOL It’s definitely small town living at its best, with all the good, bad, and ugly that goes with it. However, if I had to be in a town and be in trouble, as we were during Hurricane Rita, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anyplace else. It’s comforting to be in a place where everyone knows your name and where the local radio station owner can broadcast live about the condition of your home because he knows where you live..:)
Note–All the photos in the hurricane section of this blog are courtesy of KJAS Radio, www.kjas.com in Jasper. While I didn’t take them, I’m using them to illustrate the kinds of things I saw during Hurricane Rita.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.