Have you been affected by Hurricane Rita? Do you live in the areas covered by the storm's path?
This is the third page of your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
We're both from Leicestershire living in the Galleria area in the southwest of Houston. We have decided to stay in our apartment and ride out the storm, mainly due to the traffic situation on the roads. The majority of or complex are doing the same thing. We stocked up on water, food and beer on Tuesday. We are keeping a close eye on the local news reports and we have petrol if we need it but we hope our 4th floor apartment will protect us from any flooding.
Liz Paul & Paul Higgs, Houston, Texas
I've lived in Houston since 1977 and was here when Hurricane Alicia came through (the eye went over our house), so have some idea of what to expect. My husband and I have boarded up the back of our house (facing north) to protect us from the winds we'll probably experience on the West side of the storm and are now prepared to hunker down for the next day. We stocked up on essentials and hope we're ready. Most of our neighbours also stayed and the team spirit is good to see. It's also been great to be able to e-mail with family back home. Two of my daughters live in the Houston area and they are also staying put, along with their families. Our prayers are with those further East, who will bear the brunt of this hurricane.
Brenda Porter (ex-pat Brit), Katy, Texas
When it comes to moving large numbers of people relatively short distances to safety even on several days notice, the United States government has demonstrated that it still has a lot to learn. Once again planning has been very inadequate and unanticipated problems have become major obstacles.
Our good friends Joanne and Simon Hendry, both British citizens, live in Houston and we have been unable to contact them since Tuesday. Please post this message so they may see it and let us know that they and their boys are all safe and okay. With lots of love to them.
Bernadette Noujaim Baldwin, Singapore
I just spent two days trying to leave town but was gridlocked in the traffic. I am now back home, downtown Houston, waiting to see what happens.
Michael, Houston, Texas
As a native Galvestonian, it hurts me to leave the island - but this time I'm glad I did. I was lucky, leaving Wednesday morning - the trip from Galveston to Dallas (with my very annoyed cats) should have taken five and a half hours - and this time it took nine and a half hours. The folks who left the next day had it so much rougher - one friend only made it as far as Houston (50 miles) in 11 hours of night driving. Will my house be there when I return? Will I be able to return? Thank God for communications - though many phone services in the area are overloaded, I've been able to keep in touch online with what is happening on the Island. P.S. I depend on BBC News Online for world news!
Elizabeth Godbehere, Galveston, TX
When the people were evacuating Galveston and we heard of 120 mile queue, why didn't the police force traffic down both sides of the motorway and reduce the congestion? Nobody in their right mind was heading the opposite way after all. Drastic times demand drastic actions, surely?!
Ian Sephton, Chalfont St Giles
My sister and her 18 classmates from Rose Bruford College, Sidcup, London are spending their second year studying in Nacogdoches Texas. She called yesterday to say they have been told that the eye of the Storm will be Nacogdoches
Rachel Homewood, Plymouth, Devon, UK
Its 12.50 am and I am sitting in my study room and watching the winds swirl at 50 Miles per hour. There is not much rain though. I am just wondering what would happen to my windows and my roof. It's scary; but it's curious. My wife and my six-year-old son have hit the sack an hour ago. As a man of the house, I could not sleep. I hope things go fine. I still feel that I made a wise decision, by not hitting the roads and getting stuck in the traffic.
Seetharaman, Houston, Texas, USA
I am the US Southern Country Representative of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and I consider that the emergency services and political leadership of the federal entities, Texas, Houston, Galveston and the surrounding counties have provided admirable leadership in preparation for the oncoming of Hurricane Rita. To evacuate two million people from the coastal area of eastern Texas with minimal problems shows the worth of teamwork, strong leadership and implementation of the lessons learnt from Hurricane Katrina.
Justin Jones, Houston, Texas
I live in a south eastern suburb of Houston that was designated as one of the mandatory evacuation zones. Wednesday was spent buying essentials in preparation and finishing work which was personally to decide which patients can safely go with their families and which ones needed to be transported to other hospitals. Wednesday night was spent on the road with my nieces - they spent sixteen long hours from downtown Houston to a northern suburb, as they were stuck on a freeway. Driving through this gridlock freeway has been a daunting task and I dread the return journey.
Qamber, Houston, Texas
Why the surprise, fear, and fascination when hurricane-prone areas of America are affected? That's just part of life in that part of the country. It's always been that way. Either learn to live with it or simply move.
Expats would do themselves a big favor by realizing that we have much more extreme weather than they are used to in Europe. Something to seriously consider before moving.
Allen, CA, US
My friends left Houston thus morning. They took the 10 Westbound and made it to San Antonio in record time. They report that abandonned cars were lining up alongside the highway. They are now safe and have found lodging. Highway 10 westbound sounds like an appropriate alternative for the residents of Houston who have enough fuel in their car and have not evacuated yet.
Marc Olivier Rainville, Montreal, Canada
Iżm an international student from Medellin, Colombia, living with my brother and cousin in Pearland, Texas.
We evacuated on Thursday heading northwest to Nacogdoches, 59 freeway, but the hurricane switched its direction and we had to change our plans.
We decided to go Dallas on the 45 freeway, which was going two ways north bumper to bumper. It took us 17 hours just to get to the woodlands, north Montgomery County, a ride normally 50 minutes long.
Erika Johnson, Pearlan, Texas
Forty-eight hours ago i thought my home would be gone after Rita came in. I live 50 miles from the coast. I too was caught in the traffic jams, turned around and came home to find that Rita had turned towards Galveston.
All in all it seems the traffic problems were solved way in time. So we learn with each disaster. It's 1900 and it's dark... windy, only no rain so far... We are on the dry side now, whew, not in her direct path.
It seems like weeks now that Rita has been haunting us. we are all tired, exhausted. we are safe!
Ron, Wharton, TX
It's 2130 Friday - looks gusty and rainy outside but nothing abnormal so far. We know it's coming but after a couple of days of 90 deg+ and blue skies it's hard to imagine. It seems so unreal.
We're in Katy, west of Houston, and are "sheltering in place". We have our saferoom ready - water, torches, radio , plus a cooler of good cheeses and a couple of bottles of wine, for when it gets bad (should be down to <80mph winds inland).
I just hope the folks who got stuck on the highway got to safety.
Claire, Brit living in west Houston, TX
We all are affected by Hurricane Rita. This country is a big mess economically. The Iraq war is draining this country dry to the point that we can't even fully help the Katrina victims, let alone the damage that Rita is going to cause.
Sarah, Pontiac, MI
I'm amongst several staff at the British School of Houston who have made it 500+ miles north of Houston to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We've left almost all our belongings behind - we'll just have to see what's left when we return (whenever that will be). The trip to Tulsa was actually really quite clear for my family, we avoided most of the traffic by sticking to back roads, but living on the north of the city also helped a lot. Other colleagues came in this morning after being on the road for over a day and a half - one person got 38 miles in 10 hours of driving. There are some fairly scared people here, but all very grateful to have got out, and grateful to the school's parent company who have paid all the expenses for us to get out.
Alan Wilson, Houston, USA
Noon, Friday, 23rd Sept. We are bracing for the storm. My family and I decided to stay after listening to the 10 am national weather update. The city looks pretty deserted from about last night. All shops are closed - most of them have boarded up.
Farrukh Ahmad, Houston, Texas
Myself, my husband and 6 month old baby are from the UK and have been living in Houston since Jan 2005. We were worried about Hurricane Rita and evacuated Houston at 2am on Thursday morning. After 10 hours we had only travelled 20 frustrating miles. Temperatures in the car were around 100 and we had less than a tank full of petrol. We decided to turn around and head home, which took 30 minutes, rather than risk our daughter's health in the heat and the possibility of still being in the car when the storm struck. We are now at home preparing to sit out the hurricane in our bathroom, eating snacks and singing nursery rhymes to keep calm. We take some comfort that a few of our neighbours have also returned with similar stories and we all will be looking out for each other.
Kate Vervest, Houston
We are in the North West of Houston. It is quite calm here. Most homes are all prepared and the latest projections are for the eye to move slightly south again and hit Galveston instead of Beaumont. We are expecting the weather to get start getting bad in the next 6 hours. We are all hunkering down in the back bedroom with the kids, dogs, cats and all the supplies.
Colin Tait, Houston, TX
As we sit in our apartment in the west side of Houston, windows taped up, furniture moved to the centre of the room, water and ice ready, my husband, myself and three cats, watching the 24hr excellent news coverage of the impending hurricane, we are struck by the kindness of Texans. They are rushing to help stranded motorists, offering petrol, places to stay, water etc. There are so many stories of people having spent 24 hours driving north of Houston and then running out of fuel and they are getting help from the local people where they are stranded. Although we are not looking forward to the hurricane making landfall we are thankful to be living in the state of Texas where you know that people will offer endless help to their neighbours. It is very heart-warming. We are originally British and have been in Houston for 3 months.
Wynne Wilson, Houston, USA
Everywhere is really quiet now and eerie. We are all just waiting to see what happens. A lot of people have left and we have all made up our beds in storm cupboards. At the moment it seems surreal but by tonight it will be a different matter. We have no petrol so we couldn't move even if we wanted to, but most of the British Club here are being typical to our reputations and planning get-togethers and hurricane parties.
Sarah Flavell (President of Woodlands British Women Club), The Woodlands, Texas
My brother has just called from Austen, Texas (Friday afternoon). Along with his wife who is seven months pregnant and their 20 month old son they've finally made it north out of Houston. The nightmare journey, which normally only takes a couple of hours, took them 15 hours. I am very relieved that, although exhausted from their journey, at least they seem to be safe now. They are staying with friends of close friends (who they travelled up with in convoy) who very kindly offered their spare room as all hotels in Austin seem to be fully booked.
L Tulloch, Fife, Scotland
My two daughters, their husbands and children live in Houston. My eldest daughter and her family have evacuated to Austin and it took them 20 hours to get there through horrendous traffic. My youngest daughter and family are not in a low-lying area in Houston so have decided to stay, taking refuge in inner rooms if and when it becomes necessary. I am naturally concerned but am proud of them both for doing in each case what they believe to be the right thing. My prayers are with all families affected.
Diane Cotton, Steeple Claydon, UK
My wife Heather is staying with friends in Missouri City, just south of Houston, and I have been unable to contact her. I'm hoping and praying that she and our friends have been able to move to a place of safety. If you see this message, Heather, please call me.
Clive Newman, Gibraltar
This is getting beyond a joke: my wife and I fled from New Orleans in the path of Katrina and rented an apartment in Houston until our house is habitable again. Now Rita is coming to spoil the party here too. And there are still more than two months of hurricane season to go.
Phil M (ex-pat Brit), Houston (ex-New Orleans)
I have been monitoring the evacuation plans here in Houston and think that they have been implemented well, but no one anticipated the traffic jams. Some of my friends headed inland towards Austin and sat in 6 hour traffic and moved for only 20 miles. So they turned around and decided to ride out the storm. Also, people are running out of gas just sitting in the traffic. We're just staying in the house, planning for the worst, and praying for the best.
S Patel, Sugar Land, TX, USA
I'm not scared in the least. I was just at the grocery store and was dumbfounded by the anxiety shopping. We're four hours inland and increasingly outside the hurricane's pat. Clearly, the under-reaction to Katrina has caused a massive overreaction to Rita. The media have certainly fed this frenzy.
Shane Watts, Austin, TX, USA
I ran a bar in Galveston for six years coming back to the UK only in March. I also used to go to NO maybe once a month to play blackjack and see a good friend of mine that ran a bar there. I can't believe when I go back neither place will be the same again. My thoughts and prayers are with my good friends over there.
Martin Davies, Harrogate
My family is not taking this lightly. We have been boarding up our house all morning and the neighbourhood is slowly becoming deserted. The gas stations in League City are running out of petrol and cars are jamming the main roads heading north. Interstate 45 north is jammed and it will take several hours to go through. Well good luck anybody else in Galveston County.
Patrick G, League City, Galveston County, Texas USA
We live in the predicted path of Rita, although I suspect it will 'only' be a Category One storm when it arrives in the Brazos Valley, with the accompanying severe winds and rain. The danger is the tornado threat. In addition, there is now a rush on supplies (petrol, water, non-perishable foods) as precaution. In addition, perhaps over 4,000 evacuees from Houston/Galveston are set to arrive to the community. The shelters are already open and emergency services dealing with the second wave of hurricane refugees. Admittedly, we made our "Wal-Mart Run" this morning, and it was packed.
Wendy, College Station, TX
Here in Havana we weren't quite sure what to expect, but in the end we just experienced very strong winds and rain. There was a long power cut, but that was more a preventative measure than anything else. It's incredible how informed and prepared everyone is here in Cuba for these hurricanes, and we felt very safe. The power is back now in most of Havana, but it is still raining and we've been warned not to go down to the Malecon sea wall.
Tanya, Laura and Anneka, Havana, Cuba (originally from London, Sheffield and Bristol, UK)
I am in Arizona but my wife and two daughters are in Houston in a low lying area near the coast. I have told them to leave immediately and I hope that everything will turn out all right for them. The roads will be clogged because of everyone trying to leave. I already have difficulty getting through to them as all the cell phone circuits are busy.
Rishi Raj, Parker, Arizona
Just been on the phone to my brother and goddaughter who live in Houston and they are preparing for the worst. His wife works in Memorial Hermann hospital and will need to stay in town but Emma who is nine months and dog Daisy and dad are going to head out of town if things look bad. Sending all my love and prayers to them and all residents of Houston. God keep you all.
Alyson Faulds-Smith, Glasgow, Scotland
Just back from the grocery store. There was no bread, no cereal bars or granola bars, no peanut butter, no tuna. Our weather guy just mentioned that Austin may not even get any rain out of this. I'm glad people are taking this hurricane more seriously, but some are in such a panicked state that does little to improve anyone's situation. Particularly now that the storm has changed course a bit. I'd completely disagree with the gentleman who suggested that Austin has a laissez-faire approach to the impending storm. Although that typifies the central Austin population, try far northwest Austin. It's near-pandemonium here.
Elsa, Austin, Texas
My girlfriend and her family live in Pearland Texas. There home is between Galveston and Houston. Like so many they are unsure about what to expect from Rita, and the damage it could inflict on their home. My prayers go out to them and all those still caught up in the aftermath of Katrina.
Originally my husband and I had planned to ride this storm out until Rita reached Category 5 status. I'm nine months pregnant and due in less than two weeks, so we've decided that for the sake of our unborn daughter we'd rather leave our new home and head inland to my parent's house 200 miles north of us. Having lived on the Gulf Coast almost all of my life I've experienced numerous floods which have wiped out everything we've ever owned. What I've learned from those storms is that material things can be replaced, but lives are priceless. May God be with all of us as we face this deadly storm slowly heading our way.
Kelly, Spring, Texas
The situation in the greater Houston area is still calm. However, traffic is considerably congested and petrol and potable water are scarce. Rita is definitely going to be a major disaster and all we can do is prepare ourselves, be optimistic and hope for the best.
Oscar Sanley, Houston, TX
We are ex-pats living in New Orleans, who evacuated to Houston for Katrina. We got back last week but my husband remained to work in Houston pending the re-opening of New Orleans. Now he is evacuating back to Louisiana. Luckily we have a house, albeit with holes in the roof, for him to come to. For those evacuees in shelters in Texas it must be truly overwhelming.
K, New Orleans
I have a cousin who lives in Bay City, right where Rita is supposed to hit. My aunt and other cousin live in Beaumont. They have ridden out other storms; I hope that they don't try to ride this one out, too.
Michael, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, USA
I just spoke to mum in Corpus Christi and you could hear the anxiety in her voice. Rita is now a category 5 and the main evacuation route to San Antonio is a parking lot. What's usually a two hour journey is now ten. They've just about secured the house as best as possible and are about to get out of there.
Marc Hashagen, San Diego, CA
On touring holiday in south US. Hotel reservation for Fri/Sat in Lafayette, LA has been cancelled by hotel and no empty rooms this side of Oklahoma. Fortunately our current Houston hotel has extended our reservation but we are now holed up here in the path of the storm. As a tourist I have been taken aback by the impact the storm is having on life here. Everything you normally take for granted is grinding to a halt (and there are still two days to go). Spirit is good amongst fellow guests. Not sure if mood will be the same over the coming days. It makes for an interesting holiday.
Alan Denny, Horley, Surrey
I'll be in Austin, TX (about 210 miles from Galveston) for the weekend to see the ACL Music Festival. I know it's terrible of me to worry about missing out on concerts when people are worried about losing their homes but what terrible timing. I suppose I'll just bring my rain gear, extra food, and make the best of it. After all, English-blooded Seattleites like me are no strangers to rain.
Shannon, Seattle, USA
You'd never tell there was a storm out in Gulf, sunny and beautiful today. Schools are closed, the navel base was evacuated and Padre Island also. The mayor is 99% certain mandatory evacuation orders will be issued shortly since the storm is still travelling a due west course. Best of luck to all that live on the coast in Texas.
Donna Rogers, Corpus Christi, Texas
Regardless of what the people are saying my family has lived in Texas City and gone through our fair share of hurricanes, we can confidently say that we are well prepared to go through another hurricane with no severe consequences. I will not be encouraged into leaving by this media frenzy which our town is facing.
Leonard Finsley, Texas City, Galveston
School has been cancelled for our entire school district in Katy, which is merely a few miles west of Houston. It is not possible to find gasoline, bottled water, or wood in town. It is also hard to find Katrina evacuees which dominated Katy's landscape for weeks. They are going west. My family will remain here and hope for the best.
Brent Lanier, Katy, TX
I've got a three-day pass to the Austin City Limits Music Festival. So far, the organizers have said they won't cancel, rain or shine - although local weather stations predict 70 mph winds for Saturday and torrential rain. 65,000 people at a concert in a hurricane. It's going to be awesome.
B, Austin, Texas
I work for a large hospital chain and will be working out of a hospital during the hurricane. Lots of activity in getting patients out of hospitals in evacuation zones, with many ambulances working hard through evacuation traffic. We will be utilizing helicopters in this effort as well. We are applying a lot of the lessons taught by Katrina.
ERG, Houston, Texas, USA
My family lives in Houston and are evacuating tomorrow afternoon. Our house flooded during tropical storm Allison four years ago. I only hope and pray that everyone who can will leave in time.
Luis, Austin, Texas
My latest calculations show that the eye will be 82 miles west of us inside the loop (central part of Houston). However being on the east side of the storm is worse than being on the west, so I don't know if 82 miles will help us. We're staying at home; the shops are empty of essential goods, so we'll have to make do with what we've got. And then probably sing Rule Britannia or something.
Adrian, West University, Texas
I live in Kingwood, 26 miles north of downtown Houston, but part of Houston City. Tuesday, long lines were beginning to form at petrol stations and water was running out in stores. This afternoon they announced the schools will be closed. Chainsaws have run out, as have sand bags. We live at the bottom of the hill, by a forest, five minutes walk to Lake Houston. I don't know where to go - I would stay but I have three small children, and I am now scared as it has been announced it is the third most intense storm on the Atlantic on record. I don't know where to go or what to do. I am English, and am not used to hurricanes.
Anne-Marie, Kingwood/Houston TX
The roads are gridlocked so we're staying put, complete with food, water and batteries. We live in faith that our house will remain standing. Even if it does we will likely be without power. In 90F heat the lack of air conditioning will be no fun and potentially dangerous for the young and old.
Alex Guild, Houston, Texas, USA
My husband and I work in the Clear Lake area, but are in Ohio this week for a funeral. Rita developed after we left, so my father went to my apartment yesterday to secure it and take our two cats with them. It has been very difficult to reach my parents or siblings on their phones, but I did manage to talk to them a few minutes ago. They left their home in La Porte six hours ago and are presently next door in Baytown, travelling at a snail's pace on 146 North (two miles an hour). I have not been able to reach my grandmother or uncle today, but I'm sure they are in the same boat. Hopefully the authorities can get the inbound lanes to 45, 146 and 59 open to outbound traffic. If not, my family and others may run out of gas before they get out of Houston.
Jay, Houston, Texas
My mother and grandmother have been on the road for hours going to Dallas. My father will be on call at the hospital, and my stepmother refused to leave. I am supposed to fly to Canada in the morning, but wondering if it wise to leave. However, the hurricane is shifting more north, so it may not directly hit Galveston now.
Jenna, Austin, Texas, USA
Not taking any chances living about 0.5 miles from the Medical Centre which flooded heavily during Allison. Leaving at 2am Thursday morning and will head 600 miles west to Fort Davis. Mood has definitely changed within the last 24 hours. Last night, we were fairly casual about filling up with petrol. Tonight, we are comparing evacuation plans with neighbours.
Teresa Smith, Houston, Texas USA(Originally from Bridlington)
Ready to get out, house is boarded up, office is closed, roads are jammed with people leaving coastal regions, hospitals are moving patients, and all 911 calls will be fruitless after tomorrow PM. Most residents here are staying and will meet in the country club. We will need a boat to get there. We have put trucks is several high places around town. Helicopters have been flying overhead since lunch time. Shops have sold out of water and basic supplies, it's like standing on a train track waiting for the Inevitable.
David Ohara, Sugarland, Texas
I'm currently at university in Commerce, TX, which is 300 miles from my hometown of Houston. My family from Louisiana is staying with us due to Katrina, and now the family from Galveston, La Marque and Beaumont are headed our way too. I just hope my family boards up our house, because my parents are medical and transport workers, so they can't evacuate like others. Here's hoping we live far enough inland to just get the downpour, but avoid the eye of the storm.
Kelly, north west Houston, TX
All the highways are being converted to go in one direction out of Houston. They have to consider access for buses and emergency vehicles to enter the city as well as people travelling into the city to pick up family and friends with no cars. The process is not as easy as you think. It is dangerous and difficult to change the direction of traffic over a several hundred mile stretch of highway.
Rayo K, Houston, USA
I live in Houston but am not evacuating no matter how big the hurricane gets. I have plenty of supplies and enough beer in the fridge to last me three weeks. I'm not sure why all the fuss, because although it can rain quite hard here, most towns in Renfrew will probably escape the worst.
James Docherty, Houston
My parents have evacuated Houston and are on their way to Austin as I type this. Even here in Austin, 200 miles (321 km) inland, the stores are sold out of bottled water, tuna fish, and batteries. People are scared.
Angela Hardy, Austin Texas USA
We're preparing for a weekend of flooding and strong winds here in Austin. I plan to buy food and water tomorrow in case of power outages. Many Austin universities are closing Friday. I'm glad Texas is taking this seriously and planning ahead.
Emily, Austin, TX
We are currently in Houston and staying put. We have an excellent case of red wine, tinned goods, hard boiled eggs and the like. We have been here pre-Katrina and think the media is helping to create the madness. As we are staying on the west side of Houston, we should be able to tough it out unless a tree comes through the roof. Driving to get out of Houston is total madness and probably more dangerous. I would also like to share a point of view that is being ignored. I think President Bush has been superb in his response to Hurricane Katrina. In the US, the primary responsibility is city and state. The federal government is a last resort. And, Houston has been brilliant in helping her neighbours from New Orleans. It's a shame they have to up and move again. All the best.
Joann McLaughlin, Aberdeen Scotland
I am packing up to leave my home as I live in an area where evacuation is mandatory. We all believed that after Katrina nothing as bad could happen here. Well it can and we are all very scared. I am originally from London and nothing prepares you for something like this. Cheerio from these parts. It's time to push my cat into the pet carrier, gather up my water and food rations and head for dryer land-wherever that will be.
Sally Brock, Houston Texas
I live 17 miles NW of Houston and work in Pearland which is right in the path of Rita 15 miles or so inland. Today we boarded the offices, stored files and wrapped electrical equipment. We have been given Thursday and Friday off to take care of business. We are not sure if there will be anything left on Monday. A lot of my fellow employees live in the Galveston areas and I pray their homes will make it through the devastation if the storm hits the predicted path. Having said that I think Katrina has created an almost surreal "War of the Worlds" type panic, my wife has left with the children to go to Magnolia which ironically could be closer to the eye of the storm when it hits landfall. I prefer to stay until Friday night and take care of my home before leaving. The main problem I see 50 miles inland is loss of power and flooding. Lets hope Rita makes landfall further west and spares the Gulf coast another human catastrophe.
John Powell, Houston, TX
The storm has caused panic in Houston. I went to my local grocery store yesterday morning. I was unable to get water, soda or canned goods. They were all sold out. I went back today with no luck. I waited in line for about one hour for gasoline. I finally was able to buy a small amount of water and canned goods. I am leaving town with my two small children. I was unable to find a hotel room anywhere in the state. I am staying with family in the Northern part of Texas. I am leaving at 4am to avoid traffic. It took my husband five hours to make his normal one hour commute from work today. My husband must stay behind because he works for Harris County. Wish my family luck. We will need it.
Ashlee, Houston, TX
I'm currently a student in San Antonio, but my family lives in the Houston area and Gulf Coast Plains. I'm not worried here, but am worried about those in my small town, where flooding from a local river is bound to occur unless the storm weakens. My father is staying put, and will probably be okay, unless the winds cause serious damage to our farmhouse, built 1912. But there are people who live in the country out there that don't have the capacity to leave, and I am concerned about the poor and the old farmers left to deal with flash floods and high winds. I'm keeping my door open for friends to stay the weekend.
Libby, San Antonio, TX
I have friends and colleagues living in Houston, who I visited just two weeks ago. It is very worrying not knowing if they will be able to get out before the hurricane hits land. The traffic and fuel shortage problems have forced many people to stay at home. I hope and pray that they will be safe.
Houmhra, Birmingham, UK
Things are really terrible on the freeways with reports of more than eight hours to travel 50 miles. People are terrified after seeing the damages caused by Katrina. The TV images and weather forecast are helping people to make up their mind. We have decided to hunker down in place at our friend's house rather than getting stuck on freeways. The latest projections show that the storm may be shifting to the east and hopefully Houston will be spared the catastrophic damage that was feared yesterday. The city and state are trying to make thing easy but they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people trying to get out.
Niaz Mustafa, Houston, USA
We are being told to buy food and water supplies for several days. I wanted to take the bus to the supermarket, but checking Capital Metro's website I learnt that our public transportation system is on strike today. The route I needed is not running at all. I wonder what was going on in their minds when they chose this day for their action. So I walked to another, more expensive supermarket and bought some cereal bars and fruit. Fortunately, I always have plenty of drinking water at home, because those shelves were almost empty this morning (Thursday).
Ursula, Austin, TX
I have nephews - one with wife and child in the area. Their mum (located in another state) is being forced to move and have no way of contacting her or them. They're ordinary US citizens who can't afford computers/internet. One of my nephews lost everything through Katrina - he's gone to his brother in Texas - located near Houston. My cousin, their mum, has had so much to deal with including losing a finger in an industrial accident but got nothing because of the legalisation Stateside. Can the BBC help to get us in touch with people Stateside when Rita hits Texas? Forgive me all you folk out there going through the nightmare - just my family comes first, like yours. Hope the US system this time is more user friendly than with Katrina.
My family and I have relocated to San Antonio for the time being. We drove from 7:00pm Thursday to 5:00am Friday to get to San Antonio. Eventually, people got fed up with the traffic and started driving on both sides of the road. We could only sit in standstill traffic for so long.
Michael, Houston, USA
I'm a native Houstonian, and it's getting crazy here. The gas stations are running empty, grocery stores are having trouble keeping inventory on the shelves, and there seems to be a general air of panic. Coming right after Katrina, this is just too much for a lot of people.
Patrick Conner, Houston, United States
Lots of people are getting out of western Louisiana also. I think a lot of people are not taking the chance that it could turn further towards the north. The gas stations are running out of gas and there are no hotel rooms anywhere near (we are heading to Nashville, TN - very few rooms left there). My husband and I have a 10 month old we are not taking any chances.
Paula, Lake Charles, LA (formerly Lancashire, UK)
Things are crazy here. It took me forever to get home from school because the big highway (I10) was at a standstill. I have moved a load of furniture inside and we have duct-taped the windows for safety reasons. Tomorrow I head for San Antonio.
Sarah, Houston, Tx
Tried to leave Houston with daughter and three babies last night. Got about 35 miles south of Lufkin and stopped in sea of red lights ahead and headlights behind. Went three miles in two hours. Cars pushed off road out of gas, broken or just quit. When gas gauge got down to one half and wondered where I and all other cars would get fuel in Lufkin and what to do with three babies and a nursing mother in 100F heat. Turned around and drove back to Houston passing a 50 mile double line of northbound cars not moving or moving very slow. Evacuation is not the answer. Must be more selective.
Don, Lancaster Pa
My wife is in Katy, Texas (25 miles west of Houston) with our three children, I'm on a business trip in Angola. I can't get home, she can't get out. Traffic is so bad there now it's unreal. 100 mile traffic jams, cars overheating and breaking down only making it worse. Shops have sold out of water, petrol is almost impossible to get. It's going to be a long night on Friday.
Mark, Katy, Texas
My friends just started making their way out of Houston about an hour ago. I hope they will be able to get up north and not run out of gas on the highway. Keeping my fingers crossed for all of you.
Sarah, HH, Germany
Why is only one side of the highway used for evacuating traffic? Surely it would reduce the gridlock to use both sides of the highway for the evacuation, perhaps blocking off one or two lanes for any incoming traffic/emergency vehicles?
Suhel, London UK
It's 10:30am on Thursday. We live in West Houston. After cancelling my flight to the UK yesterday to attend my brothers' wedding next weekend. I decided to stay with my family (husband and two sons, 21 and 25). So last night we decided to leave on Thursday to stay with friends in Waco -200 miles away. This morning at 5:30am, after listening to an update (people driving 25miles in 15 hours) made the decision to stay. The men have spent the morning clearing the patio of pot plants and anything that could become a dangerous projectile. My husband, Ian went to the store for last minute items and had to queue outside as police were only letting then in one at a time. I'm now in the process of cooking up meat from the freezer while we have the power. We have been informed that the edge of the storm will reach us Friday around 11:00am and the full force at around 2:00am Saturday. Therefore, today is busy preparing and trying to keep everyone's mind occupied. Well, that's all for now, will keep you informed.
Christine Cushnie, Houston Tx (ex -Sanderstead)
They have cancelled school all over our area and most businesses are shutting down. Gas is increasingly difficult to find and even more difficult to find are available motel rooms south of Oklahoma. I am a school teacher and we are preparing our school right now to be a shelter, but most people are getting out ASAP. Katrina taught us bravado in the face of a Category 4 or 5 storm is futile and foolhardy.
Hendrik Lange, Stitti/Neustadt-town
My husband and three work colleagues have just phoned me from the lounge at Houston International Airport. They are hoping to fly out at 4pm US time but are obviously worried that they may end up stranded at the airport. NB It is possible to drive to the airport without going on the clogged freeway. That is what they did from Central Houston at 5am, despite being told by Americans that the only way was on the freeway.
Carrie Kelly, The Hague, The Netherlands
We have family on the gulf coast of Corpus Christi, Texas. My children and I are very concerned for them because of how close they are to the projected path of the storm. We have not heard from them and are praying they've have moved more inland.
Heather, Hyde Park, New York
My mum, dad and sister live in Katy Houston. Spoke to them today (Thursday). They are busy packing up and making the place safe from flying objects. They live near a bio which could make matters worse. But they are hoping to leave today for Ann Marillo to stay with friends. The weather is hotter than usual at 100 degrees at the moment. I hope they have a safe journey and pray for their safety.
Heidi Lord, Lowestoft, England
Here in Austin some of the grocery stores have been mobbed. Many people are moving here to stay with their relatives though it is predicted that we might lose power and even water for a few days. This is definitely the worst storm Austin will have seen ever.
Dhananjay Adhikari, Austin, TX
Our area is filled with stress and tension. I live at the half-way point between New Orleans and Houston. The parish to the south of us is under mandatory evacuation, though this parish is filled with evacuees from New Orleans. We had to watch has a Cat 5 tore through New Orleans just west of us, now we get ready to watch another cat 5 tear through the land just east of us.
Mel Jean, Sulphur, LA, USA
Traffic leaving the city is incredible. Our home is over an hour and half from the Galveston, Texas coast and the freeway is in gridlock. Gas stations have run out of gas and there are cars along the side of the freeway who have also run out of gas after hours of trying to flee the city.
Brian Bozovsky, Houston, Texas USA
We have prepared with water, food (and wine and beer) and we have a safe room in the middle of the house. We have talked to other neighbours who are staying, and are prepared to ride it out and support each other. Very hard to get gas, water, plywood, batteries and other supplies all over the city. Have full tanks of gas, ready to leave if we have to. Nightmare roads (2 hour journeys turn into 12 hours) so not worth leaving at present. Hundreds of thousands on the move, very difficult times ahead for lots I'm sure. We are hoping for the best and hope your thoughts are with us.
Ian Charman, Houston, Texas/formerly UK
Most of my family lives in the Houston/Galveston area. Eight of them are coming to stay upstate with us while the storm passes. It will be interesting having so many family members in such a small house. Unfortunately, the older family members will be unable to evacuate due to declining health.
Hillary, Texas, USA
The school I work in will host the gulf coast evacuees for the weekend. We are stacking up on water and canned food. Hopefully the storm will lessen in intensity by the time it reaches Austin. We're praying.
Ali, Austin, US
We live North of Houston (about 25 miles) and the projected wind strength in our area is 120mph. There are people evacuating from Galveston but are finding it difficult to move on our freeways due to heavy congestion. People have been on the road for 12hrs and are not even making it out of Houston.
Alma, Spring Tx: USA
I'm originally from Houston; now living in north Texas due to being stationed in the U.S. Air Force up here. My family is still in Houston, and I've only had sporadic contact with them due to jammed phone circuits, and it's virtually impossible to get out of Houston because the freeways are likewise jammed - all this before a drop of rain even falls. At this point, I'm trying to get my family up here to stay with us; although the storm (or what's left of it) is too expected here in Dallas by Sunday. We Texans are a hearty lot, and we'll do our best to keep a stiff upper lip. For those of you across the pond that are inclined to pray, send a couple our way. Thanks to the UK for your friendship - ever onward!
William Harrison, Dallas, TX
We're in North West Houston where all of the freeways are completely jammed. Most gas stations are closed and there's little water or batteries in the shops. Hotels all over Texas are full and our neighbours are heading to Oklahoma which is the closest they could find a hotel. I've got a friend from the UK arriving in Houston Thursday afternoon so I need to stick around to pick them up and then decide what we need to do. The storm is currently a category 5 over the Gulf but we're hoping it will reduce as it hits land. Fingers crossed.
Andrew Broadhead, Houston TX (Ex Manchester UK)
My brother in law and his family live in Houston and are presently being evacuated. We were with them 2 weeks ago and my parents-in-law landed in Houston last night to visit them - they are supposed to be going on a cruise from Galveston on Sunday! When we first spoke to him yesterday he sounded in a blind panic! There is no fuel left in the petrol stations, people are panic buying food and water. He has managed to get them a hotel room in Dallas for Friday and Saturday nights, but this is one room for the 6 of them! We are waiting to here more when they wake up today.
Mark Crook, Oswestry, Shropshire
We live on the western side of Houston and are expecting winds up to 100 mph. We are boarding windows and are planning to stay put, taking shelter in my parents' room or under the stairs. We have our supplies ready, so wish us the best...
Kenneth Ferguson, Houston, Texas
I am an expat living slap bang in the centre of Houston, but today I am in Buenos Aires, and getting back into town (hopefully) on Friday morning. I do not for one second underestimate the potential danger of this storm, but after talking to my son and friends in Houston tonight, evacuation unless you are on the coast seems right now seems to be adding to the apparent total confusion and mayhem (perhaps panic is the wrong word) that I understand is happening tonight. I can only hope to get back in time to be with my family (including my 2 dogs), rather than sit in my hotel room unable to sleep away from it all.
Piers Gormly, Houston, USA
We are still in dilemma here in central Houston. Ride it out or evacuate? The decision will be made tomorrow morning, but it is looking more likely that we have to get out of here. The mandatory evacuation area does not quite cover us, but the worry level is pretty high. We are stocked up on water, beer, wine and food. Fingers crossed.
Matt, Houston (ex-Blackburn)
Panic buying of petrol, batteries, water in Houston, not too worried here in Austin. Everyone from Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi evacuating here. No hotel rooms free in Austin or San Antonio.
Kate McSheffrey, Austin, USA
Traffic is crazy - went out to try fill up more gas..and lines all over. I am going to wait it out - although I have heard we are going to be hit with strong wind..and who knows what else. It is a frightening feeling not know what to expect. My co-worker left for Dallas yesterday and it has taken her 17 hrs - which is normally a 4 hr drive. Be safe friends and please pray for us.
Zander, Sugarland, TEXAS
I left for Dallas Wednesday afternoon. The local news repeatedly shows computer models representing the effects of the predicted storm surge, with Galveston Island completely disappearing at around 20 feet. Though I've only lived in Houston for three years, I've seen plenty of moderate flooding from heavy rains. And as I live less than a mile from a bayou, I'm a little nervous that I won't have an apartment to return to.
Nicholas Williams, Houston, TX
It's amazing how many people are on the move right now. I'm in Pensacola, FL, which has seen quite a few of these storms, but am just in awe at the massive size of this thing. We're still watching it closely as it begins the turn north because we may still be affected. However, until then, my heart goes out to all those in the 'danger zone' and I hope that lessons learned will keep innocent lives from being lost. God be with them.
Sean Merritt, Pensacola, FL USA
There was an increasing amount of worry here in Austin as the day went on and the severity of Rita became more apparent. I work in a non-medical staff capacity for a large non-profit hospital network and the medical staff is prepared for long, tough shifts as victims of the hurricane will likely be sent if able to our hospitals.
People are stocking up on flashlights, water, etc. But it is now very difficult to find water as a lot of places are clean sold out and some stores have shipped their water stores to areas of Texas that will likely receive the brunt of the storm. We have several thousand Katrina refugees here in Austin and I am happy for them that they do not have to relocate once again like the Katrina victims in Houston. There are no hotel rooms available for people fleeing the hurricane in the 90 or so mile stretch that includes San Marcos, Austin and Georgetown.
Carrie Hernandez, Austin, TX
Having just relocated to Austin from the UK to pursue a PhD, I'm finding the mood here to be an odd mixture of the dour and the carefree. "Will the Austin City Limits festival be cancelled?" is the main question around here, which attests more to Austin's laissez-faire attitude than a lack of concern. Texans have been remarkably generous with the Katrina relief, and now people are gearing up to take their more immediate neighbours on the Gulf Coast in. You have to cut through the media hyperbole, but it feels pretty ominous, no matter how many times people have dealt with these in the past. We shall see how it pans out.
Andrew Jones, Austin, Texas
School has been cancelled for our entire school district in Katy, which is merely a few miles west of Houston. It is not possible to find gasoline, bottled water, or wood in town. It is also hard to find Katrina evacuees which dominated Katy's landscape for weeks. They are going West. My family will remain here and hope for the best.
Brent Lanier, Katy, TX
We have just been sent back to our hotels and the plant is now closed while backups of critical data are undertaken. Will remain closed until after weekend. Those of us scheduled to fly out over the next couple of days are waiting for word from the airlines and Houston International Airport. I am scheduled to fly out on 23 Sep at 2000 hours. Cutting it fine!
Tom Hannan, Houston, Texas
Houston is really gearing up for the effects of Rita. My employers closed the office at noon today in order to enable people to either go home and prepare or leave town.
Panic buying is definitely setting in. The grocery store shelves are empty and I just saw a line of 30+ cars at the petrol station.
I live within the metropolitan area of Houston and did plan to ride out the storm but have now decided to secure my house the best I can and then head for Dallas. Guess I can visit Southfork!
Darren Williams , Houston, Texas (ex- Colwyn Bay)