Please pardon the impersonal nature of this message since I am posting it to numerous people and a couple of forums. Please do not reply to this message as my computer time is limited for a while due to lack of electricity and we are very busy trying to help with the clean up.

Feel free to pass this message on to anyone who might have relatives or friends in the area hit by Hurricane Rita.

We live in Jasper, Texas but we were in Colorado when the storm came up so we were safe. Had some roof damage (shingles missing) and a couple of ceiling fans were damaged. Lots of trees down and lots of clean up to do.

The storm was still a category 2 hurricane when it went directly over Jasper. We are approximately 110 miles from the coast of Texas and this is the first hurricane to ever hit this area.

We have water (have to boil it before drinking) and natural gas but no electricity. Cell phone service is working but cell phone system seems to get overloaded at times. We are fortunate enough to have regular phone service at our house but about 75% of the homes do not have phone service. Oddly enough, my DSL line is working fine. Of course cable TV is completely out and only 1 of the 2 local radios stations is up, I suspect the other station lost their tower.

There is limited gasoline available but we have not waited over 15 minutes in line for that.

Wal Mart has managed to get open but there is no perishable food available.

The National Guard and Red cross are here as well as a lot of policemen from other cities and utility crews from as far away as Ohio to help restore power lines. It looks like it could be a couple of weeks before we get electricity back at our house but will be longer for some other folks.

National Guard is handing out ice, bottled water, and a couple of kinds of pre-packaged meals. You would be surprised how fast you can learn to like Chef Boy R Dee(sp?) Beef-a-Roni at times like this.

About 20% to 30%of the homes in town suffered major damage, mostly from falling trees. Another 30% or more suffered minor damage (missing shingles, damaged rain gutters, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised that not more serious damage was done to more homes given the number of trees we have here. Most of our trees are pines and average 50 to 70 feet tall so they can take out a lot of things when they fall. We have seen hundreds of "near misses" where a tree missed a house by a couple of feet or the house was hit by the branches of the tree top which resulted in little or no damage.

About 75% of the power lines, including the main feeder lines bringing power into town, were destroyed. Probably 40% to 50% of the power poles will have to be replaced.

The only fatality I know of so far in Jasper is 1 person who lived about 4 blocks from us. He was a diabetic and in poor health and died, probably from a combination of the diabetes and the heat we had for a few days after the storm.The heat was in the 95-97 degree range for a few days after the storm but a cool front came through Thursday morning and dropped the daytime temps back to the 70's and mid 80's, that was a huge relief. Unfortunately it appears that the temperature will get back in the high 80's for the next few days few days but we should get another cold front next weekend.

The dress code is suspended for the next few days (or weeks) since most folks won't be able to wash clothes for 2 weeks to a month. We were fortunate enough to find a generator in Albuquerque, NM on the way home from Colorado (I will be eternally grateful to my brother for finding that for us) so we have some electricity.

Our motorhome has been a lifesaver. We are staying in it at night since it has a big generator, air conditioning, and satellite TV.

The folks South of us and in SW Louisiana got hit a lot harder than we did. We were very fortunate, both personally and as a city.

If you are so inclined, please make a donation to the Red Cross or your favorite charity. All the charities have been strained badly by the back-to-back hurricanes and need extra donations at the present time.

Bill Tolle