Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Katrina Part One: The evacuation

Saturday August 27, 2005 9:00 am

Three years ago today it was Saturday morning and I was watching The Stepford Wives (the true story of Katie Holmes) on HBO. Chad was at work and I was just sitting around in my pj's and the kids were watching cartoons and playing in their room. There was a knock on the door, it was my next door neighbor Carolyn.

C: Are you leaving?
FF: What?
C: Are you leaving? Katrina is coming.
FF: Katrina?
C: The hurricane! You must leave. Call Chad, you can come with us.
FF: OK, um what should I take? How long do you think we will be gone?
C: Think of it as a little vacation. It will probably only be for two days. I will be packing up the camper, come on over when you are all packed.

I still didn't know what the hell was going on. I heard nothing up until this point. I switched over to the news. Katrina was a Cat 3 hurricane and there were not mandatory evacuations yet. I called Chad. He didn't know that people were starting to evacuate. Now he is in the U.S. Coast Guard in New Orleans, so if he didn't know what was going on how the hell is everyone else supposed to? He said he would call me back. After a bit he called back and said that it was my call if I wanted to go with the neighbors. If I decided to go he would catch up to me when he got off work. They were not released from work as of yet. I was so confused. Should I wait for Chad or go with my neighbors. I truly didn't know what to do. Within my first week or so of moving here we endured hurricane Cindy. It was the loudest, scariest storm I had ever been in and I didn't want to experience that again. I decided to go with my neighbors but first I needed to put gas in the truck for Chad if he were going to meet up with us later. Holy crap! The line at the gas station was ginormous!! I waited and waited. Did that ever test my driving skills (there were cars everywhere!) and my patience! It was not chaotic, everyone was patient and helping others pull up to the pump. I had to back up through a vehicle maze and there was a nice man that helped me maneuver. I eventually filled up and returned home.
I began packing, lightly I might add. I took a few toiletries, pj's and two change of clothes. I basically packed as if I were going camping for a few days. I packed up Logan, he was only one at the time. Hayden, who was five, packed up his clothes and a few favorite toys for him and his brother. I also grabbed some snacks. But that was it.
I was worried about my dogs, but Chad would be home to get them. So off we went in my neighbors RV to Jackson, MS. Just an hour down the road I started crying, thinking I should have stayed behind and waited for Chad. I talked to him on the phone and he still was not released from work. Oh and by this time, around 12 or 1 I think, they finally ordered a mandatory evacuation.
We arrived at the campground, it took us about 3 hours to get there. There was a swimming pool, so I decided to take the kids swimming rather than sit around and worry. After that I visited with my neighbors, Gene and Carolyn, along with their friends Bob and Roxanne. They fed us and we were just sitting around and chatting. It was now after dinner and Chad called and said he was at home. He gathered his things and the dogs and piled into the truck. He was on his way to meet us. Katrina was now a Cat 4 and bearing down on us.
He finally arrived late at night, it took him forever due to all the traffic. We called our parents and decided to try and get some sleep. My neighbors have a small RV enough for 4 adults. Their friends, Bob and Roxanne, had a huge RV bus. My wonderful neighbors stayed with them so we could all stay in their RV for the night. The dogs stayed in the truck with the windows down. We had the TV set on The Weather Channel all night long. Chad laid with Logan and I laid with Hayden on the two beds and we just fixated on the TV. I don't remember what time it was, but it was very, very early on Sunday morning and she was now a Cat 5! I don't think we slept more than an hour that night. The sun was barely up and there was a knock on the door of the RV. It was Carolyn.

C: We need to go. Did you hear? She's a Cat 5. We can't stay here.

We hurried up and showered, exchanged phone numbers and gave everyone a hug goodbye. I think it was about 6:30 am on Sunday. We just started driving...

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