Wow! What an ordeal. My heart and thoughts are totally with everyone who has evacuated from the path of the storm. No matter what damage the hurricane does – you’ve all made a good decision to leave.
I left my home at about 4 am on Saturday to drive to Northern Louisiana and pick up my wife. I was aware of the hurricane heading that way, but all the weather reports indicated that I had plenty of time and wouldn’t have to leave to come back till Monday. How wrong I was. I made what usually takes me 10 to 10 and ½ hours to drive in a little over 9 and ½ hours.
I got there for lunch, then took a two hour nap because I hadn’t slept much the night before. After I got up I helped with a few things they needed my help with through the rest of the afternoon, then it was time for an early dinner. But right after dinner I started watching TV for a while. They keep it on the news and the weather channel most of the time and what I saw concerned me a lot. The mayor of New Orleans called for an evacuation and I was very concerned with the traffic flow problems along the major interstates I needed to travel. That, and I had a feeling that just getting gas was going to be a problem. I discussed it with my wife and we made the decision to leave right away – no waiting.
We packed the car quickly and got out of there. It was still a while before it got dark when we left and the traffic on I-20 when we got there wasn’t too bad at all. But the further I travelled, the heavier the traffic got. I was really worried about how bad it was going to be when I went through Jackson MS. Fortunately it was just heavy and no real problem. But I had a feeling it was going to be really bad around Meridian MS.
It was getting really late by the time we got to Meridian. I had it in my mind to stop and get a hotel room, but all thoughts of stopping were quickly dashed from my mind when I-59 joined I-20. We crawled past Meridian at about 40 mph and I considered that really good. Every gas station we saw along the way was packed with cars. Every hotel looked packed too.
I knew I needed gas one more time before I could make it all the way home and there is one station I usually stop at before the Mississippi – Alabama border where the price is usually a lot cheaper. I dared to pull off the road and get gas. I was lucky. I was only about two cars back waiting for the pump.
After I got gas, we went inside to use the restrooms. It was there that my wife met and talked with an elderly woman from New Orleans who asked my wife if we were from there too. She was by herself on the drive because her husband refused to leave their home. She was completely distressed over the fact that she may never see him again. I think she had good reason. Our hearts and prayers are with her. I think of her often even now, and really do hope her husband – along with everyone else – will be just fine.
Getting back on the interstate after that was a major problem. In just the few minutes we had been off the road, the traffic congestion had gotten a hundred times worse. We literally crawled over the Alabama border. Fortunately, we turned off at the first exit to head east across the state, but even there, we were in the company of many “caravans” of evacuees. Going through Montgomery proved to be another nightmare. More traffic on the interstates again. All the way to the Georgia border – in the wee hours of the morning – all the gas stations and hotels along the way were packed with people.
We turned south just before we got into Georgia and went another route – away from the interstates – that would take us much more quickly home. It was like a huge relief to get away from all the cars. The sun was just beginning to lighten the sky when we got home. We were both exhausted and slept most of the day.
Just to let you know. I haven’t really suffered any problems after being in diapers for so long, not really. But I’m very worried about wetting the bed. It seems that when I sleep now, I’m waking up when I have to pee, but it takes me a while to realize that I do need to pee. It’s like the feelings have hidden themselves. They’re there, but my mind has to search its more forgotten corners to find them. Luckily, no problems – yet.
Today, I have a feeling I’m going to be glued to the TV, watching the storms. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has had to leave their home. My further prayers are with everyone who is volunteering their help, or is helping for some other reason. A big thank you to them for all that they do.