It's been just over seven years since I was a cameraman covering the landfall of Hurricane Rita for The Weather Channel. I was working with On-Camera Meteorologist Jim Cantore and his producer, another cameraman and our satellite uplink truck operator.
We ended up in downtown Houston for the landfall, but shortly after the winds subsided, we drove east to the little town of Orange, Texas. We quickly set up live shots right off Interstate 10 near a restaurant that had nearly been destroyed by the driving winds and heavy rain.
When we are out covering tropical systems, we carry plenty of bottled water and non-perishable food. I've learned that a hot meal is about non-existent after a hurricane blows through a community. There have been numerous times we've shared our supplies with locals who either ask, or look like they need some nourishment. This trip, however, our producer found a local who couldn't ask for herself. You see, she was a chocolate lab puppy.
Injured, hungry and probably scared, this puppy quickly made friends with the crew. Our satellite truck operator agreed to let her come inside so she could rest. After lapping up some water and munching on some human food, she quickly fell asleep. It was obvious she hadn't rested well lately.
When the time came for us to depart Orange, there wasn't a lot of discussion as to the fate of our new-found 'Rita' as we called her. John, the truck op, thought he could find a good home for Rita, As it ends up, she would become an excellent addition to his family. Once home, a veterinarian determined she had a broken hip, likely sustained during the hurricane. Surgery was performed to get Rita back to health.
Now seven years later, John updates me that 'Katie' as she is now known, is 'fat and happy' and still very much a part of his family.
The Hurricane Rita crew in Orange, TX with puppy Rita being held by our producer.
The Weather Channel posted a small article about Rita on their website shortly after our return. Here's a link: http://www.weather.com/blog/weather/8_7627.html?from=blog_comment_month&ref=%2Fblog%2Fweather%2Farchive%2F200509.html#comment
I can't begin to count how many tropical systems I've covered over the last 13 years, but needless to say, it's in the dozens. I've seen many things I'd like to forget, but this was one occasion that I happily recall.
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