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Hurricane Rita weakened to a Category 4 earlier today as Galveston evacuated in an orderly but necesarily slow manner as the storm draws ever closer. Houston is bracing for an impact that will put the evacuees of Katrina through a second attack of catastrophic weather in a month:
Cars clogged Texas highways with more than a million people fleeing Hurricane Rita on Thursday as the storm roared through the Gulf of Mexico on a potentially catastrophic course.
Rita weakened to a Category 4 storm with winds at 150 miles per hour but remained extremely dangerous, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an afternoon update.
It forecast the storm would hit near the Houston area, the heart of the U.S. oil industry, as a dangerous hurricane of at least Category 3 intensity early Saturday.
Heavy traffic jammed highways from Corpus Christi in southern Texas into Louisiana as coastal residents, heeding the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, headed inland to escape what has become one of the most intense storms on record.
As Rita neared, Exxon Mobil said it was closing the biggest U.S. oil refinery in Baytown, Texas and another in Beaumont, 90 miles east.
The closings, combined with earlier shutdowns due to Rita and Katrina three weeks ago, raised to at least 12 the number of U.S. refineries out of commission. Together, they had nearly 20 percent of U.S. refining capacity, raising the specter of serious gasoline shortages in the days ahead.
After the emergency of Rita dissipates and the repair work has begun, this country needs a frank discussion about the status of our refining capability. We have not added a new refinery in 30 years, thanks to a number of efforts by environmental activists to shut down the oil business and the normal NIMBYism that arises when discussing infrastructure needs. Forcing our friends in the Gulf to carry that burden on their own for this long puts the nation in a highly vulnerable position, and we are all about to see the results of that shortsightedness. If we cannot get our capacity back on line at 100% in the next month or two, we may have people freezing to death this winter in the north because of fuel shortages.
First, though, let's focus on the safety of the people in the area. The Duke of DeLand has family fleeing the Galveston area; his daughter, son-in-law, and two beautiful grandchildren (as a grandparent, I know they're all beautiful) have taken to secondary roads to get out of the storm path. Pray for them and keep up with their progress at his website.Sphere It Duke of DeLand has family fleeing the Galveston area; his daughter, son-in-law, and two beautiful grandchildren (as a grandparent, I know they're all beautiful) have taken to secondary roads to get out of the storm path. Pray for them and keep up with their progress at his website.&topic=politics"> View blog reactions
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» Rita's Coming from Secure Liberty
It's amazing to have two storms reach the category 5 stage in the same year. It's more amazing when they arise just more than a week apart. Adding to the unusual, they are taking similar paths across the Flordia Keys and into the Gulf. As Han Solo o... [Read More]
Tracked on September 22, 2005 7:56 PM
» Get your TinFoil hat on! from Just A Girl
I haven’t been making hurricane posts here at all. Doesn’t mean that the past few weeks of storms and devastation to the Gulf Coast and human lives hasn’t affected me. Or that the ridiculous, bitter partisian politics on both sides... [Read More]
Tracked on September 23, 2005 3:38 PM
» First One Is Up from scoopstories
Seeing as I have so much time on my hands... No, wait, that explanation won't wash. Seeing as I'm a news junkie going through withdrawal and blog and have plenty of opinions on media issues, I've kicked off today a [Read More]
Tracked on September 23, 2005 11:02 PM
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