This morning, at 6 AM, I got the call I had been dreading from a close friend. A mandatory evacuation had been issued for Jefferson County, Texas, where I live, because of the impending landfall of Hurricane Rita in our back yard. I grew up in East Texas but have been fortunate enough, until now, never to have to actually evacuate for a hurricane. Most of the Golden Triangle area, including Jefferson and Orange counties, always evacuate to my hometown of Jasper, located about 120 miles inland from the Gulf Coast, which has always been considered safe ground.
However, this time around, the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina back in late August has everyone freaked out. Harris County, where Houston is located, has also been issued a mandatory evacuation order, along with all the cities along the coast who have to evacuate through Houston. Can you say "evacuation hell"? My sister and niece were already in Jasper, having left Houston on Wednesday at the urging of my brother, the assistant emergency management coordinator for Jasper, Newton, and Sabine counties, as well as the Fire Chief for Jasper. My sister-in-law related that my brother’s exact words were, "Tell them to get the hell out of there now!" when my sister asked whether she should leave Houston.
My plans to evacuate to Jasper, where my family is located, went up in smoke at around 10 AM. A mandatory evacuation order was also given for the Jasper area. In its 150 year or so history, Jasper has never had to evacuate for a hurricane. Now I was beginning to freak out. So, with Jasper evacuating, where exactly was I supposed to go? I checked with my family, and they weren’t budging, so I decided that if we were going to die, I’d die along with the family. Kinda weird what goes through your head during times like these. I got online and notified my clients that I was running from Rita today and that I’d be back in touch when I could. This was NOT the way I wanted my Thursday to be..:)
I guess the positive thing is that since I was a housesitter for a friend during July and August, and just moved into my duplex in September, I hadn’t unpacked much and knew exactly what I needed to take with me — what was most important for me — because I’d done this several times over the summer. Into my Honda CR-V went my business stuff — my desktop computer, my laptop, my client files, assorted computer/office supplies and equipment, clothing for about 5 days, pillows and blankets, an Aerobed, and some non-perishable food items to use when the power went out.
I was in constant communication with the new guy in my life, Eric, now officially elevated to "boyfriend" status. Eric lives in Orange, about 30 miles east of me, and after several conversations, he decided to evacuate rather than try and ride it out, so I headed to his house around noon. The ride to Orange wasn’t too bad, but the traffic was definitely heavier than it should have been mid-day on a Thursday. The police were already blocking some of the freeway exits, and since I had only a half-tank of gas, I kept trying to get off to gas up my car but there was no gas to be had. I hoped I could get gas in Orange, as I had already begun to hear the horror stories of being on the road for hours on end in a traffic gridlock, and a half tank of gas wouldn’t get me far.
I arrived at Eric’s, made lunch, packed his car, got gas (yeah!), and decided on our evacuation route. Since Orange is so close to Louisiana, we decided to evacuate through Sulphur, LA and make our way north and cut across to Jasper from DeRidder, LA. The local news station kept running stories about how gridlocked the primary evacuation route was and that it was taking 6 hours to go 30 miles or so, so I hoped to avoid some of that. I just had no idea what I was about to be in for..LOL
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.