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Hurricane Rita and the Israel Connection - Bill Koenig

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Rita developed during a very busy week of focused attention on Israel's covenant land and the peace process.

On Saturday, September 17, the U.S. State Department told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to not interfere with Gaza elections even if Hamas was involved.

On Tuesday, September 20, the Quartet (U.S., EU, U.N. and Russia) had a Road Map meeting in New York City; they congratulated Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for his completion of the disengagement plan. They also called on the Israelis and the Palestinians to continue forward.

On Wednesday, September 21, President Bush praises Sharon at Republican Jewish Coalition's 20th Anniversary in Washington DC. Within a few hours of his speech, Hurricane Rita becomes a Category 5 hurricane, the third most intense storm in history

On Thursday, September 22, President Bush met with Jordan's King Abdullah to discuss the peace process in Israel.

Below is the chronology of what transpired before, during and after Hurricane Rita:

  • Saudi Says Israel Should Yield More Land - Friday, September 16, 2005
  • Pakistan's Musharraf Says Security for Israel Will Remain Incomplete Until the Creation of a Palestinian State; Israel Must "Withdraw" From the West Bank; Final Settlement Must Respect the Character of Jerusalem - Saturday, September 17
  • U.S. Voices Disapproval of Sharon's Warnings on Hamas - Saturday, September 17
  • Tropical Depression 18 Develops - Saturday, September 17
  • Gush Katif Expellees Update by Hillel Fendel - Sunday, September 18
  • Rita Almost Hurricane Strength as It Approaches Andros Island ... New Warnings Issued for Florida West Coast - Monday, September 19
  • Israeli Forces Exit Evacuated Settlements - Tuesday, September 20
  • Israel's Reserve Major General Dayan: Evacuate 32 More Settlements - Tuesday, September 20
  • Rita Becomes the Ninth Hurricane of the Season - Tuesday, September 20
  • Mideast Quartet Looks to Build on Israeli Withdrawal From Gaza - Tuesday, September 20
  • Quartet Meeting in NYC: Rice Says This Is a Beginning - Tuesday, September 20
  • Rita Lashes Florida Keys - Tuesday, September 20
  • Forecasters Fear Hurricane Rita's Strength - Tuesday, September 20
  • Gaza Evacuees Plan to Move to New West Bank Settlement - Wednesday, September 21
  • Jordan's King Abdullah Reaches Out to U.S. Jews - Wednesday, September 21
  • Oil Hits $68 as Rita Threatens Supply - Wednesday, September 21
  • Residents Prepare to Flee From Rita: Category 4 Storm Churning Toward Texas Coast - Wednesday, September 21
  • President Bush Praises Sharon at Republican Jewish Coalition's 20th Anniversary - Wednesday, September 21
  • Hurricane Rita, a Category 5 hurricane, becomes the third most intense storm in history - Wednesday, September 21
  • Bush Administration Touts Rita Readiness - Wednesday, September 21
  • Texans Flee From Rita: Category 5 Storm Churning Toward Gulf Coast - Wednesday, September 21
  • President Welcomes King Abdullah of Jordan to the White House: Talk About Israel-Palestinian Conflict - Thursday, September 22
  • Rita Becomes A Category 5 Hurricane and the Third Most Intense in U.S. History - Thursday, September 22
  • Houston Traffic Complicates Record Evacuation - Thursday, September 22
  • Refineries in Texas Brace for Rita - Thursday, September 22
  • President Briefed on Hurricane Rita Preparations at FEMA - Friday, September 23
  • New Orleans Floods as Two Levees Break Again - Friday, September 23
  • Rita Bears Down on Texas - Saturday, September 24
  • Rita Hits Louisiana and Texas Border Cities - Sunday, September 25
  • Rita Spares Cities, Devastates Rural Areas - Monday, September 26 -
  • New Flooding in Louisiana - Monday, September 26
  • President Discusses Hurricane Effects on Energy Supply - Monday, September 26
  • Bush Seeks to Federalize Emergencies - Tuesday, September 27
  • Rita Causes Record Damage to Oil Rigs - Tuesday, September 27
  • Ten Fatalities Reported; Rescue Missions for People and Cattle Continue - Wednesday, September 28
  • Conditions Primitive in Texas After Rita - Wednesday, September 28
  • White House Moves to Prevent Run on Petrol Supplies - Thursday, September 29 -

The Miracle of Rita

Hurricane Rita was a multi-billion-dollar event, but could have been much worse had it not hit the sparsely populated western Louisiana coast and southeastern Texas coast. Many prayers were answered.

Rita made landfall between Sabine Pass and Johnson's Bayou on the Louisiana coast at 2:30 CST, September 24, as a Category 3 hurricane. At landfall, Rita had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.

Hurricane Rita's track took its strongest winds over the sparsely populated western Louisiana coast, resulting in relatively low insured losses for a storm of its intensity and size. The cities of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, were hit the hardest.

Risk Management Solutions (RMS), the world's leading provider of products and services for the management of catastrophe risk, estimated on September 25 that insured losses from Hurricane Rita were likely to range from $4 to $7 billion, based on current information about landfall location and wind speeds.

The $4 to $7 billion estimate is comprised of the following storm-related components:

$3 to $5 billion onshore damage resulting from wind, storm surge and rainfall-related flood hazards. RMS's modeling of wind impacts includes both damage to buildings and notable tree fall damages. The estimate also includes expected demand surge effects, resulting from the inflation of material and labor costs in the region in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

$1 to $2 billion offshore platform damage and loss of production.

Hurricane Rita caused more damage to oil rigs than any other storm in history and will force companies to delay drilling for oil in the U.S. and as far away as the Middle East, initial damage assessments show.

"Hurricane Rita is comparable to last year?s Charley in that its damage is spread across a low-population-density region of agricultural and fishing-related industries," said Kyle Beatty, meteorologist, RMS. "There is also notable damage to offshore platforms, refineries and by-products industries of petroleum manufacturing."


Quartet Meeting - New York City - 10-20-2005

Below are the links to the main articles pertaining to the Quartet meeting.

Quartet Statement on Middle East Peace

Press Availability After Middle East Quartet Meeting