Natural Disaster 2005, Rita Meets Texas, a Construction Story
The Texas Sky September 21, 2005
Hurricane Katrina Fades, Rita Hits Next 2005
In September of 2005, I was working on my last Landfill Construction job. I did not know this at the time, but this does go to show that geology and nature win. My position was Construction Quality Assurance. In layman's terms an Inspector. Yes, a woman, overseeing the work and construction of a 5 million dollar job .
The construction of a Landfill cell is very costly and is completed by layer. Each layer must conform to State and Federal Regulations . Each step must be monitored, tested, verified, re-tested, and random samples are sent to a 3rd party Laboratory. Materials are dirt or clay-max (clay on a roll), Geo-Composite, and Geo-membrane. (Those who recycle plastic will recognize the HDPE ratings on containers, and trash bags. Liners, are very thick plastics that are 40 millimeter or 60 millimeter thick ). Liner is a petroleum product. As an Inspector, I watched every step of progress, followed the plastic welders, tested their machines, and documented everything. I had over 8 million square feet of Liner Installation experience by that time. I worked fast and assured good quality. Earlier I had assisted in the installation of a 10 acre landfill cell in Nacogdoches. That cell was completed in May of 2005.
Hurricane Katrina finally died out as a tropical storm on September 12th of 2005.
La Quinta Hotel, Lufkin, TX
I arrived on the job site, Monday, September, 12th 2005. I drove in the company truck from Little Rock, AR. It is 313 miles. A six hour drive one way.
A room was secured for me at the La Quinta Inn, at Lufkin, TX. by the company I worked for and the Project owners. Most of the crew(s) that worked this job from out of town, stayed at the LaQuinta® on 1st street . This La Quinta sits adjacent to US-59. Check in was Monday afternoon. We were booked for the entire month, a the hotel. It was estimated to take us a month to complete the 12 acre cell.
September of 2005, my daily reports started the same. Hot, Sunny, winds 5 - 15 mph. Morning temperatures were in the 70's , afternoons were the high 90's until September 20th, 2005.
We were getting the job done, now that the right people were there. We were nearing completion. The temps kept rising, and it never cooled down. We worked about 16 hours per day, because now we were trying to beat a possible Hurricane. There was going to be big rain, no matter where Rita hit, and that would have been very bad.
On the evening of September 20th, my family members were calling, and begging me to jump ship, and get out! Safety is always the priority on the job. Wisely, I kept the work truck full. In the previous days I stockpiled cases of drinking water.
Thursday Evening A Surreal Vision of a Texas Inferno...
The La Quinta Inn , was next door to an Arby's. On Thursday night, I bought 5 sacks of 5 for $5.00 deals, because we did not know what was going to happen. I bought extra, because I knew there would be people who needed to eat and be watered. Thursday evening brought a surreal vision lining US-59, in Lufkin, TX. It was so hot, that the entire car-snake radiated waves of heat, the pavement was gooey, and adding to the excess heat. Tempers were flaring, people were parked Helter Skelter in front of the La Quinta, in Arby's and at the restaurants lining the freeway access road.
US-59, was lined as far as the eye could see with cars, trucks, households of furniture, animal carriers, cows, horses, dogs, cats, grandmas, and babies. There was a Walmart close to the hotel, I was going to get my last tank of gas for the trip home...It was like a scary movie. People were fighting at the gas pumps, because gas was almost gone, and gas trucks couldn't get through on the landlocked Hwy. Neither could police, neither could ambulances or any of the services we are accustomed to in our civilization .
People were landlocked in vehicles that were virtual ovens. People and animals were roasting to death by the hundreds. Outside of the La Quinta were hundreds of evacuees, begging for rooms. Many of the rooms were held by us, and the Cherokee Fire Fighters who had been moving through in response to the fires from Hurricane Katrina. People were just everywhere. So hot and very frightened.
It took 4.5 hours to get from Lufkin to Nacogdoches, the back way. Cars and trucks were lined up on the streets and out of the driveways of gas stations for 150 miles. Gas trucks finally started making it through, late morning on the 23rd.
I was good for gas until close to the Arkansas border, I saw a gas truck pull out of a station. There was almost a riot, and I had to walk to go get the sheriff. I made it home in one piece.
The landfill cell survived 35 inches of water and 75 mph winds.
People all over the world live with disasters and no public services all the time. We here in the U.S. have been blessed. Following so closely on the horrors experienced by people in Katrina, this was a lot for us to live through.
Looking back, it becomes so clear that there were signs that we were about to experience a major upheaval. Here's your sign"
The Night Before Rita Made Landfall
Here Are Your Signs!
- Love Bugs were everywhere. If you have never seen a love bug, you haven't been to East Texas or Central Mississippi. They live to mate, after they mate they die. Get a couple of them together, smashed into your radiator screen, and you have a stink you will never forget. There were so many love bugs, they were in the drinking water system. If you used the Porta potty, you would probably have a love bug stuck to the inside of your drawers...not a mosquito in sight.
- Vultures - On landfills, there are a certain number of scavanger birds that are part of the system. On the 21st, one of the crew members came up to me and asked, "have you ever seen a baby vulture?" Now these guys were always pulling my leg, because I take everything seriously. I waited for the punchline, but there was none. In all my years on landfill jobs, I had seen vultures, but they protect their young. The adults were bringing their babies out to some dirt mounds on the capped cell next to the one we were constructing. (There's a sign)
- I can't find the shaky picture I took, but the only thing I can think to call it was a Scarab bug landed on the composite. It looked like a piece of sterling silver. Like jewelry. It was about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. I was afraid to get too close to it, because I thought it would jump on my face. I do regret that I didn't capture it, but maybe I shouldn't have. I have never been able to find out what it was.
- The two evening skies that I did photograph were good signs, especially the big mad eye in the sky. The picture that is shadowing on the Geo-Composite looks like someone is standing on the cell in landscape. I was the only one out there, everyone else was doing something else.
- It stopped cooling down at night. By the 22nd, there wasn't a creature stirring, not even a Vulture.
Hurricane Rita by Sofweet
Hour One of Hurricane Rita
- ESA Portal - Envisat and ERS-2 reveal hidden side of Hurricane Rita - images
As Hurricane Rita entered the Gulf of Mexico, ESA's Envisat satellite's radar was able to pierce through swirling clouds to directly show how the storm churns the sea surface. This image has then been used to derive Rita's wind field speeds. - images
- ESA Portal - Protecting the Environment - Envisat and ERS-2 reveal hidden side of Hurricane Rita
As Hurricane Rita entered the Gulf of Mexico, ESA's Envisat satellite's radar was able to pierce through swirling clouds to directly show how the storm churns the sea surface. This image has then been used to derive Rita's wind field speeds.
Stranded Motorists & MoreClick thumbnail to view full-size
- NASA - Hurricane Season 2005: Rita
- NASA Hurricane Rita Satellite Images, Graphs and Charts
- Hurricane Rita (2005)
Rita was the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1, 2005
Temperatures Ranged Between 109° - 119°
People were stranded on Highways and Roads for an entire day, waiting for fuel trucks to get through. It was hot, and there was no authority in place. East Texas was at a standstill.
Prepare, But Do Not Live In Fear
2005 Katrina Hits Then 30 Days Later Rita
GSE - Provider of Geo-Liners
- Geosynthetic Liners - GSE World
GSE is one of the worlds largest manufacturers of geosynthetic lining products, including geomembranes, geonets and geosynthetic clay liners. Products are used in landfill liners, pond liners, aquaculture liners, tanks and more.