About this blog

Andrew Locke and Bob Sullivan

From Sept. 22-27, the posts in this blog about Rita's evacuation and devastation were reported and photographed by Bob Sullivan and Andrew Locke. Sullivan, 37, is MSNBC.com's technology and consumer fraud reporter. Locke, 34, in charge of MSNBC.com's editorial strategy, was on his second hurricane blog tour.

David Friedman and Miguel Llanos

From Sept. 18-22, the posts in this blog, examining Katrina's impact on the environment, were reported and photographed by Miguel Llanos and David Friedman. Llanos, 45, is MSNBC.com's environmental reporter. Photojournalist Friedman, 35, is a multimedia producer at MSNBC.com.

Kari Huus and Jim Seida

From Sept. 10-16, the posts in this blog were reported and photographed by Kari Huus and Jim Seida. Huus, 43, has been a journalist for 20 years and a reporter with MSNBC.com since 1996. Seida, 39, has been a media editor with the Web site since 1996.

Mike Brunker and Andrew Locke mugshot

From Sept. 2-9, the posts in this blog were reported and photographed by Mike Brunker, left, and Andrew Locke. A journalist for 25 years, Brunker, 49, is MSNBC.com's West Coast news editor. Locke, 34, has been a journalist for 17 years and is currently in charge of MSNBC.com's editorial media strategy.

How you can help

How to help the victims of Hurricane Rita

How to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina

HEADING TO THE EYE

Posted: Sunday, September 25 at 02:50 pm CT by Bob Sullivan

HOUSTON -- It's a boiling hot morning in Houston, and the bright sun could easily make you forget there was a hurricane blowing through here 24 hours ago.   By mid-morning, there are some reports that Houston's return traffic jam is materializing, but downtown there's no evidence that last week's mess will be repeated. People smile big and laugh loud, perhaps from that sense of relief from having dodged a bullet.

Still, we're reminded by blog readers that while this storm missed the big city, it slammed into small towns. So we're leaving Houston on Sunday to see what things are really like in these little towns, to see if there are forgotten victims of Rita. 

The bullet Houston dodged actually hit Port Arthur, Beaumont and Lake Charles, near the Texas-Louisiana border. It hit even harder in smaller places with names like Vidor and Hackberry, we hear.  Perhaps Rita was no Katrina -- but if your car is under a tree, your house has no electricity, and your property is a mess, Rita was still a disaster. We shouldn't forget about the folks Rita did target.

Right now, we're driving east on I-10, about 45 minutes outside of Houston. The highways are empty, except for the occasional abandoned car. We've spotted two open gas stations, both with long, -- but not terribly long -- lines, perhaps 40 or 50 cars at each.

The heat is a stroke of bad luck. The temperature is headed to 100 degrees soon, a surprising aftereffect of the hurricane, and that no doubt makes those gasoline lines seem much longer. If you're cleaning up a damaged yard, or you're returning to a house without air conditioning, that heat will seem even worse.

We can only wonder what the heat is like for people who live near where the eye of the hurricane landed. That's what we hope to find out.

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