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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It was 10 years ago today when North Texans woke up to nice weather, while the Gulf Coast was still in the throes of Hurricane Rita.
As 120-mile an hour winds hit the coast the decision to evacuate the Houston-area created a gridlock nightmare on Interstate-45. Contraflow traffic meant all of the lanes went one direction — north.
A bus carrying senior citizens caught fire outside of Wilmer, killing nearly two dozen people.
Back down on the Coast, Rita, the 4th most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, created havoc washing away seashore and causing some $12 billion in damage.
NewsRadio 1080 KRLD reporter Chuck Schechner was in Beaumont when the storm hit. With the sounds of high winds and blaring car horns in the background he said, “We’ve seen trash containers, awnings, even a brick wall that collapsed from the hurricane-force winds.”
In Lake Charles Louisiana, police Sergeant John Benoit remembers it took weeks to get the city livable again. “Nobody was waiting for somebody else to come do it for them — they started. They took care of their stuff.”
Hurricane Rita is often reffered to as ‘the forgotten hurricane’ because it happened just three weeks after Hurricane Katrina submerged New Orleans and killed more than 1,200 people.
Houston was expected to take the biggest hit from Rita, but the storm lost strength and veered east coming ashore in eastern Texas and along the Louisiana coast. The change in direction meant the Beaumont area took the brunt of the storm.
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