Life as a Refugee Displaced-Conservative-Caucasian-American

September 23rd, 2005 9:54 am\r\nThanks again to the folks at the Allman and Smash in the Morning show. (Email me for the audio - 9MB). (Thanks, Nita Rene!)\r\nFirst, let me preface this by saying I\'m working on about 5 hours of sleep since Wednesday. There\'s a strange aura around this place right now as we drift between the joy of finally arriving to our \"safe\" destination and the reality that is slowly setting in that our house sits directly in Rita\'s path.\r\nI\'ve spoken with my neighbors who chose to ride the storm out. I am going to keep in touch with them as long as they have the means to communicate with me. At least I might have an assessment on my house before I head back.\r\nNature made me a victim; technology made me a reporter.\r\nCell phones were jammed all day. I spoke with friends and colleagues who ventured out on the road only to turn around and head home to ride out the storm. I\'m saying an extra prayer for each and every one. I know on more than one occasion (but especially after finding ourselves only 60 miles from our house after 9 hours) I wondered if it would be better to bail out and head back home. But I just pushed forward.\r\nAlthough we topped off the gas tank Wednesday, we quickly found out that our car was getting 15 gallons per mile. (yes, re-read that again if you didn\'t get it the first time)\r\nThe day began with one of the most beaufitul sunrises I had ever seen. The day ended with an equally beautiful sunset. In between was one of the most stressful stretches of time I\'ve ever experienced. Here\'s how it unfolded...\r\nWe started at 6:30am and headed East on FM1960, hoping to avoid the major conjestion on HWY 59 and I-45. After smooth sailing for 20 minutes we hit the first parking lot. For the next several hours, we would only move a couple of miles at the most. At one point you could see bicycles and pedestrians passing us. That\'s a great feeling.\r\nAt 9:30am we had made it to Liberty, a whopping 25 miles from home. On the radio was Pat Gray and Glenn Beck... and it wasn\'t long before the whole car had tears flowing. (If you heard the show, you understand) This was also the moment we heard that Liberty would likely see the direct hit of the eye. Check the gas gauge, look at the tail lights, contemplate retreat.\r\nAs we drove down the backroads, most people were considerate and orderly. However, many cars would fly by on the shoulders and cut people off getting back into the line ahead. \"Blocking\" (straddling the driving lane and shoulder) became a sport. It\'s amazing how good you get at it over the period of 15 hours. By 4:00pm we made it 32 more miles to Cleveland, TX.\r\nFrom Cleveland, we went to Conroe to hop on I-45. This was the most tense stretch of the drive as we realized the gas tank was quickly draining and gas stations along the way were closed or out of gas. We found a gas station with a long line, signalling the presence of gas. People were justifiably frustrated and nerves were raw. After waiting about an hour, I pulled up to the tank. When it first seemed like my pump may be empty (it was just a temporary mechanical problem), the man at the next pump offered to fill up my car when his was topped off and I could just give him cash. Now THAT\'S the Texas I\'m proud to be a citizen of... and 5 minutes later saw one of the most beautiful sights of the day.\r\nLuckily the contra lanes were open south of our entry point on I-45. I can\'t emphasize how helpful those lanes were. Although it would be 8-9 more hours before we arrived in Dallas, it would\'ve been worse without those. We had been told the contra lanes ended in Buffalo, but we found them open all the way to Ennis. Apparently the tragic bus explosion in the news this morning occured just moments after we passed through the area.\r\nAll over I-45, we saw hundreds and thousands of cars and people pulled off on the shoulders and medians - some had run out of gas, some had simply chosen those spots (mostly beneath underpasses) to \"ride it out\". Every rest area we passed had TXDOT trucks offering gas to motorists. I couldn\'t count the number of state workers helping those that were stranded. Rarely did you ever see anyone stuck alone on the roads. At one point, on the back roads, there was a group of people handing out ice water to passing motorists. Texans helping Texans.\r\nThis is an unprecedented evacuation. More than 2 million people were thought to be on the roads with us. There were bound to be problems, but it could\'ve been much worse.\r\nNow we sit and wait and watch. The storm is weakening and moving more East, but still projected to send 140 mph winds into our neighborhood. Sleep seems much needed but hard to come by. More to come...\r\n\r\nOriginally posted:\r\n\r\n\r\n



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