What were your experiences of Hurricane Rita?
Evacuated residents of Houston are only being allowed back in stages as Texas recovers from Hurricane Rita. Special routes have been set up to let people enter section by section.
Water burst through patched-up levee in New Orleans flooding the city for a second time. But other parts of the area escaped major damage.
A search continues in Louisiana's wetlands where hundreds of people may have defied storm evacuation orders.
Were you affected by Hurricane Rita? Or do you know anybody who has been affected? How much damage has Rita done where you live?
Do you have any pictures or video footage of Hurricane Rita? If so, call us on +44 (0)208 576 1239 or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
I live in Lufkin, Texas. We have absorbed 10,000 - 20,000 evacuees. Some are from Katrina, some are from Rita. There are hours' long gas lines. I have no electricity and no-one can tell me when I will have service restored. I will be sleeping at my place of employment (a jr. college which has shut down until the situation levels out) until I have electric restored.
Nancy Reynolds, Lufkin, Texas
I evacuated to Austin, TX and a normally 2.5 to 3 hour drive turned into 25 hours for me. It was 38 degrees outside and I couldn't use the air conditioning in the car because I needed to save gasoline. Thousands of people's cars ran out of gas or over-heated on the freeway and they were forced to sleep on the roadside. It was a nightmare road trip!
Tara, Houston, TX, USA
I live near Clear Lake City, a part of Houston on the waterways connecting the Gulf. I stayed in my apartment throughout the storm's glancing blow on Houston, and I can attest to the impressiveness of Mama Nature. The horrendous traffic jams persuaded me to ride Rita out. Though Rita was "only" a Category 3 and we were on the "good" side of the vortex, gusts were still around 90 mph. Oddly though, we saw very little rain. There was little visible damage and I was without power for only 12 hours (my neighbours, however, are still in the dark.) All in all, my decision to stay put worked out, but I wouldn't want to stick around for a direct hit Cat 4.
Hardy Campbell, Houston, Texas
I'm from Beaumont. The power is out and I can't go home. I am in Dallas safe, but I have limited funds and limited belongings with me. I plan to go to Houston on Wednesday to be in a closer proximity when I can head back home. I hope this is over soon. My family, friends, and girlfriend are spread all over the state and nation. I miss them all.
Joshua Splinter, Beaumont, Tx, USA
One of the main reasons why it took the authorities so long to set up contra-flows on the freeways here, which many UK Brits may not understand, is that US freeways are very, very different to UK motorways. Here there are often 3 or 4 on/off ramps per mile of freeway which all need to be blocked off safely. This is unlike motorways in the UK where there will often only be one entrance every 10 miles or so. It took a great deal of co-ordination to ensure that all possible entrances were barricaded before the contra flows could be set up for distances of over 100 miles! Getting police cars to each junction must have been a nightmare! Please don't be so fast to criticise when you don't fully understand the situation. I think the authorities did an excellent job considering the mass panic and hysteria. The one thing that could have been better handled was the backup supplies of fuel.
Janet Beck, expat Brit in Houston, TX
I could not believe that my uncle and grandmother, both from Port Arthur, were okay until just today. They were stranded up in East Texas at his hunting camp without fuel or water. If my brother and father had not gone to rescue my uncle and grandma, she would have died of dehydration. We don't depend on the government to help us, because we are country folks.
Cheryl, San Antonio,Tx
I go to school here in Houston at Rice University. We were possibly expecting 100mph+ winds and severe flooding. All of the students in the dormitory were huddled down in to the dining room. We all brought beds and other living essentials. Fortunately, the storm moved east and one hour after the storm supposedly hit in far east Texas we were outside playing in the wind, with very little rain coming down. The clouds overhead were moving very quickly in a circular motion. I could tell that we were experiencing a hurricane. I hope people in East Texas and Louisiana were shown some mercy from the storm that largely spared us.
Nick, Houston, Texas
I was an evacuee, I never thought I'd be calling myself that. I joined the million others leaving Houston. With a 1 yr old, 3 dogs and 2 cats. A 3 hour journey turned into a 15 hour one. We were too scared to turn the air conditioning on in case we ran out of gas. We have all returned today 5.5 hours not bad..... There are a lot of felled trees and we have only seen one open petrol station in all of Houston.
Sharon Patel, Houston, TX (originally from Birmingham UK)
We were up all night watching storm path. We do have evacuees from Galveston at our home. We did not evacuate ourselves as we are 80 miles from coastline. Since we have lots of trees in Woodlands, there are lots of tress toppled and lot of wind related debris .But it did not rain much. We all are doing great and hope to get things get normal pretty soon.
Narendra Rao, The Woodlands ,Texas
We live near downtown Houston. We were going to evacuate to Austin but decided not to because of the huge traffic jams and gasoline shortages. It was pretty intense between 2 and 4 a.m., the wind howled and the house shook but our lights didn't even flicker. We are concerned and pray for the folks who were less fortunate. Glad it's over!
Jennifer DeMoss, Houston, Texas, USA
The reporters are doing a good job, but they are only talking about the big towns, like Beaumont, Port Arthur, Houston, Lufkin, New Orleans, but what about the little towns. People lived there too. Some people don't have houses left to go home too. I wish they would realize that and do some recording in the little towns like, Warren, Kountze, Beaumont Coloney, Fred, Comesneil. That way the people would have an idea of what to expect.
Trent Hale, Warren Tx. USA
I live on the Gulf coast just east of Pensacola Florida. We had gasoline shortages after hurricane Dennis and Katrina. I saw cars pulled over on the shoulder of the road that clearly were out of fuel. Lines at gas stations reminded me of the fuel shortage of twenty years ago. Some schools are out of diesel for bus travel. This may portend the future. The repercussions will be far reaching and profound.
Colin, Milton, USA
We are Brits living in the Woodlands 40 miles north of Houston. Although the people of Beaumont may disagree Hurricane Rita was a bit of a damp squib here after all the Hype by CNN et al. You could almost sense disappointment this morning on the local news when it hadn't turned into another Katrina! One of the major problems prior to this storm strangely enough was the ultra efficient Supply Chains that all businesses run here. The "just in time" philosophy meant that they were totally unprepared for a spike in demand. The Hurricane was first mentioned Monday morning, by Tuesday there was no bottled water to be found in any stores and by Wednesday morning every local gas station was empty. I went to the camping store and Home Depot (B&Q) Wednesday afternoon and it was like vultures had picked the carcass clean. I think a lot of the pundits berating the New Orleans authorities now realise you just can't evacuate more than 1 million people out in 3 days, no matter what plans you have. As a final comment the local Mayor Bill White was extremely impressive during the build up to the storm as were his team, they gave true leadership.
Jon Rogers, Houston, USA
In Dallas we are experiencing only high winds, no rain, but have received many evacuees from the south. High gas prices (if available) seem only spurred by panic buying. I think it will settle down soon. This all has ups and downs: how vulnerable we are to "mother nature" and how we still can "shrink" to a small community of "several million" when crises force us to reach out and help each other, there is hope for mankind! Many lessons to learn!
Kerry, Dallas, Texas, USA
After only 18 hours without power we really appreciate two words, "air" and "conditioning". Can really understand why there was hardly anyone here before its widespread installation. A minor thing, I know, compared to what others have to deal with. We were lucky. Still, I love the sun and heat and the warmth of the people here in Houston, Texas.
Janet Davies, Sugar Land, Texas, USA
Since last evening (Friday) we have experienced almost constant rains and high winds. The area is almost at sea level and flooding is the problem. Many have lost electric power here in NW La. No one is on the street and stores were almost bare yesterday afternoon. The weather service forecasts for Saturday night 7 inches of rain and 50-70 mile per hour rains. Pray for Louisiana
J Tinsley, Shreveport, La, USA
There is still no gasoline available in my area. My kids are off school until Wednesday and all the stores/business are closed since almost everyone evacuated. And now when they all come back, there is going to be another massive traffic mess, and as today, the gas stations around here are still out of gas. I just count myself lucky that full force of Rita didn't come this way.
Brenda Schmitt, Houston
Overall the evacuation went well, until people who lived outside of the evacuation zones decided to get on the roads. This forced some people to give up and return to homes in the endangered areas. We only moved a few miles into Houston to stay with the wife's family. While they were out shopping on Thursday one of the stores they were visiting was hit by looters. No one hurt though.
Ian, Houston Texas
I'm a Brit who is now based part time in Miami, I missed Katrina having flown out to Germany 2 days earlier. I returned to the US to organise Katrina benefit concerts just before Rita hit. Luckily Rita left Miami fairly unscathed but my feelings go out to those in her path now. Sadly if things are as bad as predicted I think we are going to be looking at Rita benefit gigs as well as Katrina ones now. God forbid that another storm follows close on the heels of these two.
Jeanne, Miami, USA
I am a storm chaser and I went to Beaumont, Texas to document the landfall of hurricane Rita. I have been chasing tornadic supercells for four years, but this was my first hurricane chase. I rode out the storm on the down-wind side of a three story building on the east side of Beaumont. When the eye wall (where the strongest winds are located)was about 15 miles away, the roof on the building started to come apart and debris was flying off the building directly at me and the news crews who were broadcasting from the location. I could hear pieces of the roof and building hitting the top of my car and then my front and side windows shattered. When you are this close to the eye of a major hurricane it is very dangerous to leave you place of shelter. I didn't have much choice though since I was getting pounded with roofing material. I tried to get to a parking garage, where several other storm chasers were located. I only made it about half way before I had trees and downed power lines that blocked the road. I ended up making it back to a strong building and I hunkered down on the south side of it for the rest of the storm. I never thought anything could beat the roar a tornado makes, but this did. When the eye wall got close the wind sounded identical to a large passenger jet taking off, but much louder. It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Damage was extensive throughout the town, but luckily nobody was killed.
Mike Gribble, Wichita, KS, USA
We have friends in Huston and they could not get out, they took advice to leave they booked accommodation and with the rest of the population attempted to drive to safety. There was no sign let alone assistance from the police or army, there was no supply of fuel despite the large distances between services, they were moving at one mile an hour. They had the choice of being stranded on the high way or go home and create a bunker. Many had no chance to escape, they tried, but it was so badly organised they simply could not get away. All they can do now is wait.
At first, I thought the whole evacuation thing for the people of Houston was sensationalized, due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But now, after seeing its fury as it hit land, I take it back. My parents and two sisters, along with my brother and other relatives, live in the Houston area. They have decided not to leave as the traffic situation wouldn't get them far. They are now in my sister's house in Sugarland. They update me through text messages. So far, they are all fine. The winds are really strong. And flooding is another issue if it does not stop raining soon. My love and prayers for them.
C Ocamponebres, Oxford, UK
My girlfriend lives in The Woodlands located 45 miles from Galveston. I lost contact with her around 5am her time today. Can you please give me any information about how hard the area was hit? I can't contact her and I am extremely worried. Many thanks.
Neil Deane, Plymouth, Devon
We tried to evacuate on Thursday but there was no way out, all roads were jam packed and we went 1.2 miles in 4 hours. With a 6 week old baby we had no choice but to turn back. Luckily for us, Rita strayed from her original path and we are all okay. There is very little damage in Houston, we saw only a few tress that had been blown over. We only lost power once for a short while. I just worry what would have happened if Rita did hit Houston, the contra flow lanes was too little too late. They really need to re-think what they will do to evacuate in future.
Ingrid Huldal-Brown, Houston, Texas
It was pretty rough in Lafayette last night. Amazingly, I still have power. The local news is giving the impression that things are pretty bad in Cameron as the local officials are asking people with boats to meet them for an emergency rescue mission. Unlike FEMA, local officials are happy to get all the help they can get in a life/death situation. Personally, I've got only very minor damage so far, but the winds last night were shaking my brick home.
Amy, Lafayette, Louisiana
I am from the USA, my father works and lives in Houston Texas. He is a Psychiatric nurse for a mental institution, and was part of the staff that was required to stay. I am worried about him but he was well prepared having a water and food supply. He also filled up his tank before gas tan out in Houston. I have not heard from him yet, but I imagine he is doing fine. I worry for those who did not prepare with food and water I think it is important to be prepared and plan ahead wherever you live.
Heather Johnson, Utah USA
Although Rita's predicted path has changed, many of the Gulf's refugees have come to Austin in an attempt to flee the storm. I live in a dormitory at the University of Texas, and it is amazing to see the number of evacuees living in our two-person bedrooms. My roommate, whose family is from Houston, has her parents and two younger brothers staying with us.
Cecilia Perez, Austin, TX, USA
Has anyone heard of damage in Lafayette? My sister called Friday morning and said they were suggesting evacuation but not mandatory. She was staying with her four children. I have not heard from her since.
Linda Guzzo, Harrison, Michigan
Rita missed central Houston. Power is out but there is little damage in our near-downtown neighbourhood.
Rex Koontz, Houston, Texas, USA
08:30 Saturday. It's still blowing a great deal, but nothing like what had been forecast. The news channels are now just recycling the scary shots from yesterday/ through the night. Looks like we've got off lightly.
Claire, Brit living in west Houston, TX
I got away yesterday from Houston where I live and work. I pretty much got the last flight out so I was lucky. The airport was absolute pandemonium. I live on the southeast side of Houston and it took me eight hours to get to the airport from where I was. I've never seen anything like it. The traffic was like something out of War of the Worlds. I have an American girlfriend, and luckily she got to Dallas. I'm hoping and praying that all will be OK. I have a lot of stuff in Houston and not knowing what will happen is a painful prospect, especially when we are so far away and really unable to do anything to help.
Matt, Aberdeen, Scotland
We have dodged a bullet big time. My wife and I, and my parents in their 70s, tried to evacuate from west Houston when it was predicted to head direct to Galveston. But we got one mile in one hour and gave up, came back and fortified the house. The wind and rain is not as heavy as we expected. I believe we got lucky. I feel for those to the east of us. We have so far (5:50 local time) maintained power and water, but we still have a long way to go.
Marcus, Houston, USA
I have family in the Houston area. They left their home yesterday at 4:30 AM to stay with my brother in Dallas. It is now 9:00 AM and they have only made about half of what is normally a five hour drive. That is 29 hours on the road at this point. All we can do is wait.
Candace, Dayton, OH, USA
I am in Kazan, Russia on business. BBC News International, my cell phone and internet satellite photos are my only ways to keep contact with my family in Texas. My daughter has been successfully evacuated from Houston, and my son from Bay City. A million thanks to BBC's Ben Brown, David Willis, Alastair Leithead and Claire Marshall.
Jack Kelley, Devine, TX, USA
I am crying everyday, a lot of Christian friends are involved in the Hurricanes, may God give us fortitude to bear the irreparable lost, I am praying for United State of America.
Plato Owulezi, Nigeria / Togo
Ironically, I might be affected favourably by Rita as I was by Katrina. I am a small farmer in a part of the Midwest that has experienced a minor drought this year. The only significant rains to speak of have come from the remnants of gulf coast hurricanes. I am very sorry for the fate that has befallen our good friends to the south. I should like to donate a part of my harvest so that at least a little good will come to these folks from these rains which did so much damage to their lives. Is it not peculiar how these very same rains can take life in one part of our land and help sustain it in another?
Greg Moore, Franklin, Indiana
I know a family in Houston who are fortunate enough to have been able to fly out a few days ago. They are fairly laid back about the possibility of coming home to find no home to speak of, but they are very well insured. So many people don't have that kind of insurance, or the money or the mobility to fly out. I'm watching the news nervously.
Sarah D, Norwich, UK
I have been in near constant contact with my sister and her family in Harris County, Houston. They are doing well, very calm and well prepared in terms of precautions and supplies. They tried to leave on Thursday but heavy traffic and little fuel forced them back. By the time they had found more fuel, they were advised to stay put so now they are hunkered down and await the outcome.
Stuart Salter, Reading, England