Report from Houston on Rita by Bob Lawrence

We've had a large number of concerned calls about the hurricane, so I hope you don't mind my sending a blanket update to all good friends and acquaintances ...

One benefit from Katrina is that everyone here is mighty respectful of the awesome power of a hurricane, so people are listening to the warnings. I assume you see the news on how congested the traffic is with all the people evacuating from south Houston to the Galveston coast... there's over a million people on the roads out of town from today's activity... with more leaving tomorrow. While Rita was bearing down towards the Texas coast, we spent this morning battening down everything at the building. I was really proud of about 25 fellow employees who decided to stay, and were able to make it through to our building this morning and help get things settled for the hurricane before going back to their homes. The tempering furnace installers from Finland are on their way back to Finland this afternoon... they didn't want ANY part of this hurricane; I can't blame them... I have no interest in spending a night in an ice hotel, either, thank you. Our building is pretty much completed and we can now secure it for this event. We were able to get everything done that we wanted to accomplish, so from here on, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

We are ~60 miles (80 kilometers) from the coast... so our main concerns will be tornados and rising water if the hurricane does veer through here and stalls over the northwest Houston area. At home this afternoon, we started to get things off the 1st story floor in our house... we are on White Oak Bayou that flooded from tropical storm Allison in 2001 when we "received" 29 inches of rain in less than 24 hours... and that was after the storm came barreling through a day before, and doubled back again for another straight 24 hours of heavy rain. You can't beat Texas for its ability to throw opposite ends of the weather spectrum at you... it's been very dry for the last three months, and will be VERY wet starting tomorrow.

Toni has been working at the house all day, and through the rest of the afternoon has had something for me to move (all of downstairs, the deck furniture and a gazillion potted plants), so this 57 year old is ready for a shower. We broke open a nice bottle of Caymus cabernet to finish off the day; we're giving up an Opus tomorrow night in hopes of pacifying Ms. Rita. We have elected to spend Friday night (Rita's expected ~1:00AM Saturday) at our son Phillip and d.i.l. Reschele's higher-ground house and keep our 2½ year old grandson Scott and my dog Molly entertained through the storm.

Your thoughts and prayers for all those still here along the Texas/Louisiana coast are appreciated. And a very Special Thanks to those of you who offered shelter for Toni & me... one offer of sharing a great wine collection almost convinced us to take the 12++ hour trip to Dallas, which normally takes only 4 hours.

Even for a mild hurricane, there is a good chance communications will be broken or undependable for the weekend; I will try to communicate to everyone of the status as soon as communications are up.

Best regards,
Bob

Ps... to shore up my political reputation among all my more "liberal" friends who are so infatuated with the likes of Edwards, Kerry, Schumer and Kennedy (Big Ted, that is): I say... go Roberts, and NO, neither Katrina, nor Rita, or governmental missteps for either, is Bush's fault!

I'm not sure if you are able to open this straight out, but you can see and scan the inside of the new part of our building. For Rita, we have trucks parked in front of the overhead doors... the new furnace is hidden behind the cinderblock wall on the left side image. I will be turning off the main electric panel tomorrow afternoon, which will shut down the remote camera until we turn the electricity back on, assuming we have electricity, Sunday morning.


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