Wow I can't believe it has been 10 years since Hurricane Rita.  So much has changed in the past 10 years.  I have so many memories from that time from the preparation at the radio station to the order to evacuate.  Here is my look back at the events and things I experienced during that crazy time.

I remember us here at the station getting supplies like food and especially water incase we were stuck in the radio station for a long period of time.  Then the manidtory evacuation was given and we had to leave.  Well at the time my mom was battling cancer and had to take all sorts of medicine.  I had no choice but to leave the radio station, pack up my mom and evacuate.

We ended up in a hotel in Jackson Mississippi for about 5 days.  During that time all we did was watch TV and try and find out what was going on back home.  I lived in an apartment during the time of Hurricane Rita.  After the 5th day in the hotel in Mississippi, we were basically told we had to leave due to rooms that had been previously booked.

So we had to pack up and leave not knowing what to do or where to go.  The reason is because I had found out that the roof off my apartment had been partially ripped off and water flodded my house.  It was unlivable along there was still a ban on coming back into the city at that time because we had no services available like water or electricity.

Well I had two options, drive to Florida to stay with my half sister or at the time I was in the middle of promoting a cruise and my travel agent called to check on me.  When she found out about my current situation, she opened up her home to me and my mom and family.  We had never even met before!  What a gaurdian angel!

Well we made a bee line straight for New Iberia Louisiana and we ended up staying with her for three weeks.  I would drive in to Lake Charles to come work because at the time we were broadcasting on the air 24 hours a day with updates from everything from where power was restored to what pasts of the area were back open for people to be able to come back home.

One of the first sights I saw when I returned was the way the then Hibernia tower in downtown Lake Charles looked.  Windows had been blown out all over the glass covered 25 story building.  Here is what part of that building looked like after the storm:

Capital One Building
Hibernia Tower in Lake Charles after Hurricane Rita (Now the Capital One Building) -- Getty Images

We had so many dignataries visit during that time giving us updates about their cities or parishes.  We had Mayors, Sheriff's, Chief's of Police, OEP official and so on coming in giving us all the information to pass along to the people of Southwest Louisiana.

As for my situation after the storm, I lost about 75 percent of everything that was in my apartment.  I remember going back to my apartment and the smell of mildew and all my possesions just being ruined by flood water.  We figured out that my apartment ended up with about almost a foot of water in the house which basically ruined everything that wasn't hanging on a wall.

Hurricane Rita in Grand Lake
House destroyed by Hurricane Rita in Grand Lake (Getty Images)

I also remember just being in awe of all the devistation in the area.  It was like a ghost town.  No lights on buisnesses, houses reduce to a pile of lumber and that erie quietness at night with no one moving around because of the kerfew that had been placed on the city of Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish.

I lived with a buddy of mine for about 3 months after that until an apartment in the area came available.  Then once, my original apartment was rebuilt, I moved back there.

My proudest moment was the team here at the radio station who all banned together and work tirelessly to broadcast the information to the people of Southwest Louisiana. We even had shirts made for everyone and handed them out.  Below is what they looked like:

Radio Station Hurricane Rita Tshirt
Radio Station Hurricane Rita Tshirt (Picture by Mike Soileau)

Wow 10 years later, we lost a lot of business who suffered so much damage that they never returned.  The on'e that stick out the most for me is Harrah's Casino, Applebee's, and Ruby Tuesday's just to name a few.

But on the plus side, the past 10 years I have also seen so much rebuilding and so many new businesses in Southwest Louisiana.  I trully believe that Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana bounced back and we are now better than ever!


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