Sit. Wait. Wonder.

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
September 28, 2005


The last week could easily be entitled, “The Wait for Rita.”

One day rolled into the next day with little attention to the usual goal of getting to the weekend. Instead, the weekend seemed to be little more than something to dread — as warning of what the damage from Hurricane Rita could be. The want for more time to prepare battled with the need to get it over with so we could move on with life.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things was the sitting and waiting. Wondering where the hurricane would hit. How much damage would it bring? Would everyone get out in time? And then once they got out, where would they go?

Everyone had a story of someone stuck in traffic for hours on end trying to get out of the coastal areas of Texas. The places so many had flocked to this summer for a dip in the Gulf waters were now the places everyone wanted to escape.

With a weary eye, everyone watched the path of the storm sway this way and that way. Those evacuating wondered if their houses would withstand Rita's power. Would it be a Category 5 or 4 when it made landfall? Or would the state be — dare I use the word — blessed with a Category 3? Did anyone even dare wish for such a thing?

There was more sitting. More waiting. More wondering. Would electricity go off for days at a time? Would there be flooding? What about tornados — the biggest weather threat this area faces yearly?

A person could go a little bit crazy waiting for the inevitable.

In a frenzy, people packed into stores and lined up at gas stations. While officials asked people to stock up items, they also asked they do so with a clear head so everyone would have a fair shot at the needed items.

Nonetheless, people would leave stores with five times the amount recommended, while others left empty handed. I suppose the early shopper gets the water.

Supplies purchased, more waiting. More wondering. Would it be bad enough that boarding up windows would be necessary? Or is that “overkill”? Maybe it would be no worse than the storms that hit the area last month. Then again, maybe that was only an appetizer of what mother nature had to offer.

For me, that was the hardest part. I would mentally try to come up with every possible scenario I could. One minute I would be filled with such confidence that there was little to worry about, and the next minute I'd be filled with such dread and fear of the unknown.

I've lived through countless tornado watches and warnings. I huddled in the band hall in high school as tornados prepared to drop on top of us — but thankfully never did. I've been stranded at home due to water closing highways. I've gone without electricity — granted not more than maybe four or five hours at one time. I'd handled all of that fine.

However, the thought of all of that at one time shook me, and even as I went about my days with a grin — deep down there was a very little girl ready to run and hide. I couldn't — and still can't — imagine how those on the coast felt in the days leading up to Rita's landfall.

As those of us this far inland scurried to find needed necessary supplies, there were others in a more dire situation coming up with no destination in mind. Just head north. As we waited and wondered in our homes in the days leading up to Rita, they sat, waiting and wondering in their cars.

Probably with Rita's passing, the days leading up to the storm will be analyzed. What more could have been done? What shouldn't have been bothered with? How will we handle it next time... because like it or not there will indeed be a next time. But the need to focus on only that is no longer a problem. There are other things to worry about and handle. As the pre-Rita time of wait and wonder is over, the post-Rita time of moving forward begins.
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