Snapshots from Hell
Photos from Lake Charles in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita
October 2005, TJ Avery

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Note on photography: I went to Lake Charles to help the family of my brother in law (Tim). Many of their houses sustained damage from flying debris, falling trees, and water (inside the house). I didn't go as a tourist or a photographer, I went to put in some hard work and to help people. I took my camera to simply document what we saw and what we did.

The photos aren't the greatest quality. Some are blurry, some are overexposed, and many were shot from a moving vehicle. They were taken by me when I was dead-tired, hot, and exhausted from working.

You may see many disaster photos and think them horrible, but you are probably doing it from the comfort of an air conditioned room while sitting in a comfortable chair. While you look at these, imagine being very tired, hot, sweaty, covered in dirt, covered in mosquitos, thirsty, and having to endure the constant stench of rotting plant matter, brackish water, and mildew. That's what makes it real, and those are the conditions that residents face as they try to recover from the storm.

Many, many thanks to Steve and Kim for coming to help Tim's family (people pics here). Many thanks to Mike and Amy as well for the supplies they donated. Tim's dad, mother, sister, and brothers were extremely grateful for the help and the supplies we all brought. They were very appreciative of the company as well, I imagine. I cannot imagine having to endure the aftermath alone. Although there was a significant amount of work needed and we couldn't have possibly repaired everyone's property 100%, the work that we did accomplish certainly helped to speed up their recovery and brought them closer to being normal again.

General Info About the Storm: The eye of hurricane Rita came ashore near the Texas-Louisiana border in the early morning hours of Saturday, September 26, 2005. It had been the 3rd strongest storm on record for the Atlantic / Gulf of Mexico region. At its strongest, it was a category 5 with sustained winds of 175 mph and a central pressure of 897 mb. When it made landfal, it had weakened to a strong category 3.

Hurricane-force winds extended from about Beaumont, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana (and a little further east), and pushed inland so far that they reached Lufkin, Texas. It has been estimated that Lake Charles experienced sustained winds of 105 to 120 mph.

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All images copyright of Thomas J. Avery.