Eric and I decided to each take our own vehicle, rather than just traveling in one. He said that he couldn’t bear to lose both his house and his car, so if his house were destroyed, he’d at least still have a vehicle. Turns out that was a very wise decision on his part, but not for the reason you may think..:)
So, we got on I-10 in the first hurricane evacuation for us both. Traffic was flowing pretty smoothly until we got to the Louisiana border and there the gridlock began. Lake Charles, LA, and the Louisiana coastal towns were also under a mandatory evacuation order, and they were all headed our way. I could tell this was gonna be a long day……
We were finally able to get on LA 27 off the freeway in Sulphur, LA, and begin our trip north. I won’t bore you with all the details, but it took us roughly 6.5 hours to go about 70 miles. Eventually the highway we were on became just a two-lane highway, and traffic came to a complete standstill for 20 minutes at a time numerous times. The temperature outside was hovering around 100 degrees, so I was trying to run my car air conditioner minimally, as I knew from past experience that running your AC while stuck in traffic is a surefire way to overheat your engine.
Unfortunately, others didn’t seem to know that, as cars started to pull off the road with various problems, or maybe they were just running out of gas. Most of the businesses in the small towns we passed through had closed for the hurricane, so if you hadn’t gotten gas or provisions prior to leaving, you were out of luck. Many homes and businesses were boarded up, and I noticed a number of residents had barricaded their driveways with their cars or tractors or closed their gates. I initially thought they were trying to thwart looters, but later realized that large caravans of families, spread out among 5-10 vehicles, would pull off the road and just take over someone’s front yard. I then understood the method to the madness of the homeowners.
I kept my radio tuned to the local CBS station in Beaumont, which had suspended regular programming and gone to 100% coverage of the evacuation. Just FYI, if you have a television station in your area that’s at Channel 6, you can also pick up that station on your radio at 87.7 FM. As I listened to what was happening, I was beginning to regret my decision to evacuate through Louisiana, as the state of Texas was providing several kinds of assistance that seemed to be lacking in Louisiana. In Texas, along the US 96/69 evacuation route, which would have been the route I would taken had I evacuated from Beaumont, cars running out of gas along the evacuation route had become so problematic that TX DOT (Texas Dept. of Transportation) was sending out fuel tankers to refuel the vehicles. You just had to sit tight with your hood up until the tanker showed up. Then, I heard that TX DOT finally made the decision to contraflow the evacuation routes at last. (I got a vocabulary lesson during this evacuation, as well.) Contraflow refers to running both sides of a highway in the same direction — in this case, north. After much sputtering that there was no way that they (TX DOT) could do this on a US highway like they could a freeway, which has limited entrances and exits, they made it work anyhow along the evacuation route. We had no such luck in Louisiana. Remind me not to leave Texas in the future..:)
As I sweltered in the sun, I tried to drink as little as possible and eat nothing, as there were no restroom facilities along the route, and pulling up to the nearest pine tree held no appeal for me..:). By 6 PM, however, I was pretty parched, so had to pull out a bottle of water. Eric had gotten about 6 cars behind me, so during one of our many times where all traffic came to a complete stop, I got out and walked back to his vehicle to make sure he had water. He was beginning to have a bit of car trouble at this point, so I encouraged him to turn off the car while we waited and make sure the AC was off.
Finally, around 8:30 PM or so, we got to the state highway that we needed to get us back to TX, and once there, had a quick trip back into the Lone Star state. We encountered little traffic, as we were re-entering an area that was supposed to be evacuated, but by that time I was so tired I truly didn’t care. By 9:30 PM we rolled into the driveway at my brother’s house, at last. My mom met us at the door with food and drink, and we started discussing the plans for Friday.
Note–All the photos in the hurricane section of this blog are courtesy of KJAS Radio, www.kjas.com in Jasper. While I didn’t take them, I’m using them to illustrate the kinds of things I saw during Hurricane Rita.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.