Thursday, September 22, 2005.
I drove back to Houston on Monday, and got in about 2:00. I stopped at the Western Union place to pickup the Red Cross money. It was kind of a pain in the behind. I had to call Western Union and get another approval number, which took about 15 minutes of trying to communicate with someone for whom English wasn't just a second language, it was probably fifth or sixth on the list. Eventually it got sorted out, and I did get the money.
When I got to Ken and Aggie's I had a look at what Rita was doing, and it was pretty obvious that my plan to hang out on Wednesday and leave on Thursday was a bad one. We had to get out Wednesday (yesterday) and get out as soon as we could. The folks in Galveston would be evacuating, and we'd have to evacuate ahead of them if we wanted to avoid traffic congestion.
We took the Dulins out to dinner at Ninfa's and had a nice time. Then I managed the kids while Andrea and Aggie went to the store to get a few things. I went to bed at midnight, and they still hadn't made it back yet. Lots of folks had the same idea, evidently.
I got up at 6:30 and started getting things together and loading the cars. I'm REALLY going to change what we take next time. I got Andrea up at 8:00, expecting us to get out at 10:00, but we didn't get out until noon. It took us a LOT longer to get out the door than I wanted or expected.
We then had to stop and get something to eat, and then stop to fuel Andrea's vehicle. I thought we'd never get out of there. When we finally did make it to I-59, I was surprised to see that traffic wasn't very heavy. We blew right through Houston, and despite thick traffic, we were moving well. When we cruised right through Beaumont, I was very encouraged, but we slowed down some as we crossed Lake Charles. At least I was in Louisiana, so we stopped for some lunch, and I didn't feel so pressed. When we got into Lafayette, I did a quick calculation, and realized that we wouldn't make it home in time to beat the curfew at 8:00, so we stopped off at Jack and Ashlee's for the night. We had a good visit, and there was a package there from my friend Stephanie with a nice note. She had sent the girls two stuffed animals that she made herself. Really cool. She sent Dakota a Legos fire truck, and I helped him put it together. The legos got more play than the dolls... Kids have no respect. :)
We were all really tired. I'd been on the run for two whole days, and the irony of having to evacuate twice in the space of three weeks wasn't lost on me. Rita keeps drifting further and further east, and I wondered if we shouldn't just drive through and go to Florida. As it is, we just decided to come home thinking that we could always get out and go if we wanted to.
Then we tried to get gas. The lines are long, and I expect places will run out in short order. People are getting testy. I think things will get ugly in spots before it's all over. We've decided to stay here rather than try to make it to Florida. I'm not sure what else to do. There isn't any gas here, and while I've got full tanks and cans, there isn't going to be much gas anywhere in a few days. I've got supplies here, and I expect that if the house stood up to Katrina, Rita won't be as bad in this vicinity. We could go to Florida, but there isn't much in Florida right now either - as much as I really need a vacation at the beach...
We're going to get a lot of rain. I hope my roof patches hold. I'm glad I had good asphalt paper laid down on mine. Some of my neighbor's tarps are already blowing off. Very bad. I started getting a few things done around the house, took a quick nap, and then sent Andrea to bed. Tony came over and said he had water leaking into his kitchen. It was raining pretty heavy so I went over and had a look for him. One of the branches of from my tree was still laying on his house, and I didn't think that was really a problem. I got up on the ladder and cleared off all the debris, and then noticed that one of the big branches was actually stuck through his roof.
I went and got some supplies to fix the 10" hole in his roof, and when I come back he is up on the roof sweeping it and hosing it off to make it nice and clean. I should have took a picture of my 75 year old neighbor sweeping his roof... I got one of the shingles that had blown off my roof and patched it in. I lifted the shingles above the hole, slid my slate shingle under them and covered the hole. Then I dumped half a gallon of roofing tar over it and called it done. Easy as pie. I wish my roof had been that easy...
While I was at Tony's, I met one of their friends staying with them. His house used to be in Pass Christian, (pronounced Chris-tee-ann). He lost everything, but was most upset about his boat.
I feel really bad for the folks in Houston. We managed to evacuate New Orleans and the surrounding areas pretty well, but how do you evacuate a city the size of Houston?
Sarah & Evan tried to go from from Houston to Uvalde and in an hour and a half, they went 1/3 of a mile, so they just went back home. I've heard that kind of story a lot.
One of my FIL's employees called. They left Houston 9 hours ago, and just made it to Beaumont. They're out of gas, and there isn't any gas to buy anywhere. There are a lot of people in trouble, and a lot more people are going to be in trouble before too much longer...
There was just an advisory scrolling across the television with mandatory evacuations for lower Jefferson Parish. Big fun. I hope my roof patches hold...
Looking at the TV... This is where I am, and there isn't anywhere to go at this point. I'm reasonably comfortable that the house won't fall down, and I'm reasonably certain that we won't take flood water. I'm comfortable with the supplies I have. I'm about as good as it gets.
I'm also fairly exhausted, and I don't have much of a sense of humor right now. I don't think that a lot of folks outside the area fully appreciate how bad it is in a general way around here. Services are hard to come by. Gas is in very short supply. Folks are starting to get restless. Katrina was bad, but I think Rita will put us into a recession. I don't think we have the leadership in Washington to figure it out soon enough. The Katrina/Rita situation is enough to really put this country in the hole for a long time if we're not careful.
The kooks are restless...
A little something from Peter: AMERICAN LOOTER SHOOTER ORGANIZATION