By Jaci Schneider, Copy Editor
Hurricane Rita this weekend caused less damage to the Houston area than forecasters predicted and answered the prayers of several students.
Chris Butler, junior nursing major from Houston, thought his mother’s house would be gone the next time he went home, but he said the storm didn’t damage it at all.
“I figured that could happen because hurricanes are so unpredictable,” Butler said.
Butler’s mother evacuated her coastal home to the Dallas area, where she will stay until at least Thursday.
“All the water is contaminated,” Butler said. “On Thursday they’ll get the results and find out if they can go home.”
Katy Hill, sophomore nursing major from Bridge City, said her home also survived the storm with little damage, even though the eye of the hurricane passed over her town, which is close to the Louisiana border.
“My dad looked at it,” Hill said. “He said our house is fine, and there was no flooding; just a few trees blew down.”
Hill’s mother left last Thursday for Mississippi to escape Rita, but her father had to stay in town until Friday afternoon because he works for an oil refinery.
“When my dad was driving back to Port Arthur, where he works, he said it looked like someone took a huge chain saw and cut all the trees down,” Hill said.
Although forecasters thought Rita might hit Galveston directly as a Category 4 hurricane, it downgraded to a Category 3 with 120 mph winds by the time it slammed into the Texas/Louisiana border, according to CNN.com. It caused widespread damage along the coast and flooded parts of Texas and Louisiana.
Millions of gulf coast residents evacuated ahead of the storm. Butler said it took his mother 24 hours to drive from Galveston to Dallas last week, a drive that normally takes less than five hours.
Although evacuating was inconvenient for Hill’s family, she said they have a “better safe than sorry” approach and usually evacuate when hurricanes threaten their town. They won’t be able to return home until at least Wednesday.
“We’ve always had the threat,” Hill said. “But we’ve never had one that actually hit our area.”
“It was an answer to prayer because there was a lot less damage than what forecasters predicted,” Hill said. “It was a comfort to know everyone was praying.”
Butler said he prayed that the hurricane would just disappear, rather than hit the coast at all, he said.
“I’m glad for the most part that it didn’t hit us,” he said. “But I know that meant it would go and hit someone else.”