Everyone is measuring time against Rita's arrival and departure in Nacogdoches County. After Rita, many East Texans somehow lost track of time. Often, people refer to events by saying "before Rita" or "after Rita" and, a month after her arrival, you still ask, "Did you survive Rita?".
Counselor Jan Rhodes says this is a common occurrence after a major event. "I laughed and told somebody last week I felt like we all are suffering from post hurricane stress disorder."
No wonder Rita is a time mark for all of us. The loss of electricity, thousands of Rita evacuees in town, a week off from school, and those long gas lines made the days run all together. Sheriff Thomas Kerss knows all about that. "Something would come up and you'll go, 'What day was that? Oh my, this is already Thursday. What happened to the last two or three days.'"
In case you're not sure, November 5th will mark the six week anniversary for Rita, time enough for most Nacogdoches County residents to pick up debris and begin making repairs, and enough time to add up the costs.
Emergency management coordinator Victoria LaFollett-Koenig has been keeping track. "Right now with Katrina we've got a little bit better than $300,000 associated with that. With Hurricane Rita, we have closer to $500,000. We feel like we'll come in just under a million dollars."
Enough time has passed to begin assessing disaster performance. Through it, we're learning a lot about ourselves and others. You should truthfully ask yourself, "Did I help during a time of need?"
United Way Director Diedra Richardson reflected, "I think I have a whole new outlook on disaster and the people that work in disasters. There are a lot of people that stepped up and did a great job. And then there were some people that you think would do a good job, but we were just really disappointed in."
There's no time limit for the ones who went beyond the call of duty. United Way continues its mission by handing out free furniture to hurricane evacuees. Fifty families remain in need. It's that kind of goodness that reminds us no matter what time it is, the road to recovery should be traveled by everyone.
Rita Assessment, Nacogdoches County
FEMA allocated $407.6 million approved for Texas residents
Poultry & timber damaged
Wildlife forage damaged