Exactly 317 days ago, we watched then-Tropical Storm Rita shoot through the Florida Straits, fearing the worst only three weeks after the horrific Hurricane Katrina. We didn't know Hurricane Rita would slam into Southeast Texas dead-on five days later and send us tumbling on a 10-month recovery that hasn't yet ended.
Today, Tropical Storm Chris -- he should be Hurricane Chris later tomorrow -- is lining up to shoot the Florida Straits, just as Hurricane Rita did 10 months and 13 days ago. On that day, I wrote in this blog:
"The Gulf Coast is jittery, as you might imagine. The storm is still distant, but nobody is waiting until the last minute. People are already talking -- quietly, for now -- about evacuation plans, hurricane survival kits, boarding windows. Here at the paper, we've already taken steps to print our paper in a nearby city -- or to print that city's paper should the storm hit there. Today, we begin girding for the possibility of a catastrophic event that affects our readers, preparing to provide as much information as we can in creative ways while also taking steps to prepare ourselves and our families for the coming storm. ... Katrina is still front-page news here, a testament to the storm's devastation. Many of Katrina's survivors still live among us. I imagine that while we anxiously watch Rita's slow roll across the Gulf, these people must be horrified. "
Today, in 2006, a new storm rises on the horizon and Southeast Texas is jittery. It's still to early to commit to uprooting people to safer places, but not too early to consider what we will do as Hurricane Chris rumbles into the Gulf. We learned much from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including the idiocy of storm apathy. So we watch.