Hurricane Rita Evacuation
A Storm is Coming
2005 was a year to remember. Katrina left her calling card in New Orleans and Rita caused an evacuation that is legendary! My family will never forget the events that transpired during the week of Hurricane Rita. I started a new job on Monday. My son and his fiancee were planning to be married on Saturday evening, September 24, 2005, at the home of a church friend in Friendswood located directly to the east of Galveston, Texas City, Kemah, Webster, and Houston. According to the forecast this was to be directly in the path of Hurricane Rita. The wedding had been in the planning stages for more than six months. We were in the middle of wedding showers and finalizing the wedding plans. Everything came crashing to a halt that fateful week in September.
Hurricanes are a part of life on the Gulf Coast and the first of June is the start of hurricane season. It is something that everyone keeps in the back of the mind but tries not to dwell on. Just another part of life. In 2005 Rita was the fourth most intense Atlantic hurricane in the history of the Gulf coast. The seventeenth named storm, tenth hurricane, fifth major hurricane, and third Category 5 hurricane of the historic 2005 hurricane season, Rita caused 11.3 billion dollars in damage to the Gulf Coast area.
September 24 saw Rita make landfall between Sabine Pass, Texas and Johnsons Bayou, Louisiana, as a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. This killer storm took the lives of seven people, while many others died in the evacuations and from other indirect effects of the storm. The storm took a path through parts of southeast Texas, caused extensive damage along the Louisiana and far southeastern Texas coastline. Some Coastal communities were totally destroyed.
Bride and Groom 2005
The evacuation began on Wednesday September 21. I left work around 5 p.m. heading home to Humble located 26 miles to the north of the Texas Medical Center where I worked. My cell phone rang before I got out of the Medical Center and my son informed me that they had decided to cancel the wedding on Saturday. They were now getting married at MY HOUSE that very night after he got off from work! My son worked at the Houston Chronicle newspaper in downtown Houston and could not get off before 11:30 p.m.. I was in shock but not being one to flinch in the middle of a crisis, I headed home to get my house in order for a wedding! Hurricane Rita would have to wait! We were having a wedding! I called my sister to get help and Thank God, Glenda is also not one to flinch in the middle of a crisis. She started cooking so we would have a meal for the evacuees who were trying to get across town to our home for the wedding. The traffic was so bad that they were sitting on the road for over three hours while we got things together!
I ran to Sam’s Club looking for a wedding cake! Amazingly enough I found a beautiful large white cake decorated for a wedding with buttercream frosting for $12.00. The cake might have been ordered for the occasion. We bought strawberries and decorated the top of the cake. Roses from Kroger’s were fashioned into a bouquet by the bride and her mother and aunt and best friend, Rachel. Within hours we turned out a dinner of pork tenderloins, sour cream and chives potatoes, green beans and rolls. It couldn’t have been better. The napkins and silver had previously been prepared and the china came out of the china cabinet. The punch was already in the freezer so it was a simple matter to pull out the punch bowls and get it set up.
Family members who were evacuating the storm continued to arrive during the evening so we had a house full by midnight before the groom arrived. A good knowledge of the city and how to avoid the main traffic arteries allowed my son to get home within 45 minutes.
Music by Mark Mireles
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Beautiful Cozy Wedding
The minister who performed the ceremony was the bride’s uncle, a missionary to Spain who had traveled to Texas specifically to perform this ceremony and landed in the middle of a hurricane! My other son was the musician who strummed on his classic guitar as the wedding party came down the stairs. The bride had two attendants, a maid of honor and one bridesmaid. The groom had a best man who also served as photographer. I have a vivid image of Shane (the best man) running around in his bare feet during the ceremony although he did have on a suit! It was a crazy, crazy moment!
The ceremony took place some time after midnight. We all thought the couple were married on Sept 21 but later it was decided that since it was after midnight the wedding was really on Sept 22. Candles were lit on the fireplace and large Euro square pillows were placed on the floor for the couple to kneel on for the prayer. It was cozy, homey, and the couple said it was exactly what they wanted for their wedding. After the wedding the couple cut the cake and toasted their new life with sparkling apple cider that we always keep in the house because we do not drink alcohol. The drink was clear and looked like champagne! Their glasses were the last two crystal flutes I had from a set that had been in my family for many years. My son loved them and will treasure them as heirlooms. The wedding turned out to be a roaring success!
After The Wedding
When everything was finally over the wedding party and the evacuees left to the sound of shouts of Viva Los Novios! Some of the evacuees went to Austin and others headed north for Dallas. The trip to Austin took about 18 hours I heard some say. The trip to Dallas was even longer!
My husband and I did not evacuate. We stayed in our home with the evacuees in our family who live closer to the coast. Rita was a terrible visitor. She caused much pain and stress in terms of the danger to those who evacuated. We prayed...oh how we prayed! At the last moment the storm moved a little east just far enough to keep the worst of the storm away from our home. My sister who lives in Rosharon which is not far from the coast thought she would have nothing left of her home but amazingly there was absolutely no damage to her home.
We will never forget Hurricane Rita and our Hurricane Wedding!
The Wedding took place here as evacuees and families were heading out of the city of Houston during Hurricane Rita.
My son Mark Mireles strummed the wedding march as the bride came down the stairs. You can hear Mark at T Bone Tom's in Kemah Texas and in Florida
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