So, we got on the road about 8 o’clock that night. The last time we evacuated (for Hurricane Ivan), it took us 12 HOURS to reach my grandmother’s house which is normally a 5 ½ HOUR drive. That was because the contra-flow was not in effect at that time. We had decided to evacuate by going over the Causeway Bridge. What normally took 30 minutes to cross took 2 hours. I was driving and I was TENSE the whole time.
Anyway, this time, it was a lot smoother. It took us about 7 hours to make the 5 ½ hour trip. This was with stopping for potty breaks and coffee breaks and to clean out the litter box from a foul…never mind. I won’t go there.
So, we arrive at my grandmother’s pretty early Sunday morning.
We had packed summertime clothes with the anticipation that we would be there for at least a week but no more than two weeks tops.
Let me back up a minute.
You know how you see neighbors in disaster movies wishing each other good luck while every one goes their separate ways before the meteor/huge tidal wave/dinosaur/aliens hit and/or attack?
Yeah, that’s what we did. For some reason, we stood on our front porch and talked to a few neighbors about what they all were going to do. Some neighbors that we had always just said “hello” to, we were exchanging telephone numbers of where we were evacuating to just in case. In case of what, we didn’t know. But, Just In Case.
Back to the story…
….when we arrived at my grandmother’s, we found out that my aunt and uncle were going to a party in Shreveport and staying the weekend there. My aunt was concerned enough to take her precious jewelry and a few other things but my asshole of an ex-uncle was absolutely CERTAIN that nothing was going to happen and was frustrated with her and everyone else in the greater N’awlins area for making such a fuss.
Despite what you heard/read/saw…people were taking this seriously.
We were relieved to hear that they would be out of harms way and after putting light of my life to bed, we stayed up for a bit longer talking.
Since nothing was predicted to happen that night or even later that day, I went on to bed.
Sunday was uneventful. Mostly just watching TV and whatnot. Trying to keep a 5 year old entertained with the few toys that we brought with us.
The longer the day dragged on, the more upset my stomach got.
Of course, having a kid, I couldn’t freak out. I couldn’t let on how scared or nervous or terrified or $%^*^& I felt. I had to hold it in.
We heard from my aunt periodically. I think at that point she might have known what was going to happen. I really can’t speak for her, though.
Sunday night arrives and it’s time to go to bed. I get light of my life in bed and watch her fall asleep.
I go back out to the living room and watch the TV. At this point, it was pretty much a forgone conclusion that we were going to get it and get it good. All we could do at this point was bend over and take it like big people.
They were giving updates pretty much every hour.
Knowing it was going to happen until very early Monday morning, I went on to bed.
I have to tell y’all something. No matter how stressful it gets, I can ALWAYS, ALWAYS fall asleep. And I did. I fell asleep cradling my daughter while horrible, horrible images floated through my head.
My mom later told me that when the winds started picking up (for at this time, we were starting to get some head winds), she opened the front door to my grandmother’s place and just watched the trees dance in the wind. She said it was beautiful.
I woke up later that day an hour or so after the storm had hit. We still had power at my grandmother’s house. We turned on the TV and tried to catch a glimpse of our city.
At this time, the levees hadn’t broken and flooded the city.
We didn’t breathe a sigh of relief, but I remember a sense of relief that we got the west side of the storm and my heart started going out to the Mississippians on the Gulf Coast who got the east and worst side of the storm.
Later that day, literally right before we lost power at my grandmother’s house (by that time, the storm had downgraded to a Category 1 or a Tropical Storm as it passed over us), we heard on the news that the levees had broken.
To be continued...
Saturday, August 30, 2008