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By JESS PEREGOY

By JESS PEREGOY

jep024@latech.edu

Hurricane Rita made an appearance in Ruston this weekend, bringing power outages and high expectations with her.

After the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina, many students in the area evacuated and took cover, expecting the worst of Rita.

“I went home to Wisner to wait out the storm,” Alison McCarty, a sophomore elementary education major, said.

Ruston residents were not sure what to expect with Rita, but did not want to be under-prepared, McCarty said.

Many Ruston residents prepared their homes and bought supplies just in case the power would go out for an extended period of time.

“We brought in as many supplies as we could like water, ice, ice chests and batteries,” Joshua Smith, Wal-Mart assistant manager said. “We sold out of almost everything. Every generator we had sold.”

Smith said Wal-Mart was busy, but it was not “anything we couldn’t handle.”

But some students chose to stay away from places like gas stations and grocery stores before the storm came, Lisa Thomas, a sophomore elementary education and special education major, said.

However, once Rita made her way up to North Louisiana late Friday night and Saturday morning, the damage turned out not to be as much expected.

Power outages and downed trees were the extent of most of the damage, Sgt. Curtis Hawkins, Ruston Police public information officer, said.

The power in Ruston was out Saturday from around 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. due to a tree falling on the main power feeder in Ruston, Judy Burt, director of the Civic Center, said.

“We were expecting the worst like everyone else,” Burt said. “But, everything went really smoothly due to an excellent group of people working for us.”

The team that had been assembled to help in case of a power outage was able to restore the power in about eight hours, a job that usually takes at least two days, Burt said.

“We were in contact with the City of Ruston most of the day on Saturday, and they were doing an excellent job restoring the power as fast as they could,” Smith said.

One complication with the power outages was the loss of traffic signals.

“The biggest problem we have is that people didn’t know the law when it came to traffic lights not working,” Hopkins said. “State law requires that when a traffic light isn’t working, you must treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Hundreds of people didn’t know.”

There were significantly more traffic accidents from Friday to Sunday, but they were not all related to the weather, Hopkins said.

Ruston Police had people working double shifts and kept officers on the streets so all calls could be handled smoothly, Hopkins said.

While Tech campus did not experience any power outages over the weekend, there were a few minor incidents of water leaking on campus, Roy Waters, the director of the computing center, said.

“Water leaked through the ceiling from the third floor in Wyly Tower [of Learning], but it didn’t cause any damage to the computing center,” Waters said.

The computing center expected problems due to projections that heavy rain would hit the area, but the computing center “dodged a bullet,” Waters said.

Rita also brought an influx of evacuees to Ruston, Burt said.

“We have about 300 more evacuees at the Civic Center now with the Katrina evacuees from before,” Burt said.

The response to Rita in this area is overwhelmingly relief.

Hopkins said, “Everyone I’ve talked to was prepared for the worst, and everything ended up going smoothly.”


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