Saturday, September 24

The first look Saturday morning

A drive-around by the American Press at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning offered a first look at Hurricane Rita's effects. Staff Photographer Rick Hickman drove. In the passenger seat, Night Editor Dennis Spears described what they saw to Editor Brett Downer, who listened via cell phone and took notes. This is what Spears and Hickman encountered on their ride.

* * *

Windy, but only a light, misty rain.

Turned onto U.S. 90 and soon saw a tree down near Martin GMC.

Left on U.S. 171 -- in all but silent traffic. A pretzeled hunk of metal up ahead; it turned out to be the support beams for a billboard that had stood over Steambill Bill's. Completely bent over. Across the street, near McDonald's, lay a power cable. Overhead, dead stoplights.

West on Broad Street, toward the lake. Stoplights not just dead, but down. Power lines sagging.

Two more blocks. A woman walking outside. It's Nina Doherty, who owns the Harley-Davidson shop. She rode out the storm. If she's out for fresh air now, it's rainy, breezy air. A city policeman is nearby. He says the worst is yet to come, because they're expecting some flooding.

One block more. To the right is Orange Grove Cemetery and old oaks. One oak has collapsed across the road. In the cemetery, someone's roof has come to rest among the markers.

Two streetside poles have snapped. Just snapped. The police have stopped traffic, though traffic is not the right word today.

South on Fourth Avenue, then. No street flooding. Third Avenue, though, has water to the curb.

So far, the homes and business buildings have some damage to the exteriors, but not too bad.

Back up to Broad. A social services office has lost its roof. The motel next door is a mess. A billboard is down. An industrial supply business has had it facade ripped away.

Crossing First Avenue. The Cajun Cafe. It's blown through.

Dark stoplight at Enterprise Boulevard. At the diagonal corner, the Exxon is destroyed. A block down, there's a beautiful old oak. It's leaning on a power line.

Two blocks up, restored First Methodist can count it blessings. It appears intact. Across the street, an abandoned gas station can count it losses. The awning has blown off.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. We're far away and wondering about Sulphur.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the drive by descriptions. Can someone tell me about N. Prater St.? My grandmother is worried sick about her house and needless to say her blood pressure is high. She's safe in Baton Rouge with my aunt.

maplewood community families said...

Appreciated the drive-by description, very informative...satisfied my curiosity...would like to know more...especially about the old maplewood area off prater road in Sulphur.

Lisa Hebert Woods said...

Thanks for the info...I'm grew up in Lake Charles. Still have family there. I now live in Canada. My mom and some family evacuated to Dallas. I haven't really heard or seen much about the damage in LC on CNN and hoped to hear more details. I haven't been able to get in touch with family that stayed in the area to "ride it out" Does anyone know if there was damage around the "Our Lady Queen of Heaven School area? That's the neighborhood I grew up in, my mom still has her home there. She will be back mid week I sure, from Dallas. Haven't been able to contact anyone.