My family is a large one. Dad, Mom, five kids, and Rambo, our yellow lab.\r\n\r\nAugust 27, 2005, was just another Saturday. My sister, mom, and I were at a ladies\' tea. My brothers and dad were probably chillin\' on the couch or sleeping in. You know those quiet, lazy Saturdays. The news of a hurricane sounded on deaf ears for us, at least at first. In years prior, we had evacuated for storms, but it was always a late decision. So, in kind, when Katrina flashed on the screen, our response was slow. We weren\'t making any plans to evacuate early, since my dad\'s a \"wait-and-see\" kind of dad.\r\n\r\nWhen the threat of the hurricane grew to a category five monster headed our way, we decided to get out of town. And, late that Sunday morning, pulling onto the interstate, we quickly found that many thousands of people had followed our same course of action.\r\n\r\nThe eight of us were split between two vehicles. Like I said, my family is a large one, and Rambo happens to be a very big dog. He was in a kennel strapped to the back of my dad\'s orange City of New Orleans pick-up, and my older brother was with my dad in the front seat.\r\n\r\nThe rest of us piled into the mini van, along with our over-stuffed duffle bags, pillows, a few precious possessions, and our cooler filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, baby carrots, and water bottles. \r\n\r\nWe sat in traffic for hours, hardly moving. There was no use checking the time, so I don\'t know how long we inched along. Hours and hours and hours, that\'s all I know. Sitting there, trying to relax, take a nap; listening to the radio broadcast of the latest storm coordinates, and news on evacuation procedures. Many people called in to vent their traffic woes. \"It\'s all bumper-to-bumper here... Seems to go on forever, man.\" Then, of course, we hear the excited voice of some driver who found some obscure, wide-open road and was currently smooth-sailing to his destination--while the rest of us sit there, jealous as all get-out. \"Can we just turn it off, mom?\"\r\n\r\nSomewhere along the way, we lost sight of the orange pick-up. Cell phones weren\'t working, and my dad\'s phone couldn\'t receive text messages. We didn\'t have a plan of where to meet in case this happened, and we didn\'t have hotel reservations. So we did the only thing we could: we prayed and asked the Lord to somehow bring us back together.\r\n\r\nAfter quite a long period of time (since I was not keeping track of it), there was a unanimous decision in the mini-van to take a rest stop. We took the next exit in a small Mississippi town, stood in line twenty minutes to use the bathroom, stocked up on snack foods and scavenged for water bottles, and then we were on the road again.\r\n\r\nAs we slowly merged back into the mass of waiting, vehicle-bound humanity, my youngest brother spots something orange up ahead. We see Rambo standing up in his kennel, and we all let out a scream of relief and joy. Yes, it was Dad\'s truck! We honked and honked until they saw us, probably annoying the heck out of everyone around us. My mom pulled the mini van alongside the orange truck, we rolled down our windows and waved fanatically--all smiles and screams (at least, on us girls\' parts).\r\n\r\nMy dad had stopped to help someone a few miles back. But then and there, our beautifully big family split between the two vehicles made a plan in case we were separated again. We weren\'t. Not then, and not ever since.\r\n\r\nI realized in that happy moment how precious a thing it is to know where your loved ones are. Just to be able to talk to them, to know that they\'re all safe. This knowledge brings a unique peace, and you feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off your chest. \r\n\r\nAnd I realized in that moment how horrible it is to NOT know where the people you care about are, to not have that peace. No one should ever have to go through that. As we got right behind the orange pick-up, and waited some more, we thanked the Lord for answering our prayers. And we prayed for any other families who were separated, that he would do the same for them.\r\n\r\n


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