We weren\'t going to leave.\r\nWell, I wanted to. But my husband was one of those I-was-here-for-Betsy-and-I\'m-not-leaving types. Of course in Betsy he was 11, he lived near the river and didn\'t flood, and his dad was a cop. Restaurant owners were grateful for his dad\'s help and gave him food they couldn\'t keep frozen anyway. He remembers eating a lot of steaks.\r\n\r\nOn Saturday, my sister called from Tennessee, pleading with us to come to her house. No, I said, we\'ll be okay, we have food, water, batteries, a two-story house, a boat, an axe in the attic -- I was so flip about that last item, now I shudder to think of all the people who really needed one.\r\n\r\nOn Sunday morning at 6 am, we turned on the tv. Meteorologists were stuttering. I looked at him and said, \"We\'re leaving.\"\r\nOf course he tells the story differently.\r\n\r\nSo on a deceptively sunny Sunday morning, we pack both cars with the irreplaceables: wedding albums, family videos, photographs, the computer tower, my late mother-in-law\'s cut glass lamp, the dog. I carried half of my personal history out of Louisiana in those paper bags from Dorignac\'s, the ones with handles. (That\'s funny because I don\'t even shop there, I just had a stack of them from a lady at work who handles catering for our meetings.) We dug out the old CB radios his dad had given us, just in case the cellphones wouldn\'t work. This was really useful. Bless you, Papa Nick.\r\n\r\nAs we packed I was drinking a can of diet Mug root beer. (That\'s two weird things. I never buy anything but diet Barq\'s, and I never drink soft drinks in the morning. The oddities begin...)\r\nI shoved the empty can in the irises around our sweet gum tree and said aloud, \"You damned well better be here when we get back.\"\r\nIn the meantime, my husband had dug up a bottle of holy water and was going around the house, sprinkling it on it. Guess you can see we take different approaches to things.\r\n\r\nThe ride to Tennessee usually takes 8 hours, this took 20. By the time we got to the big Alabama rest stop, the one on hill on I-49, I told him I had to stop and rest. We parked close to each other, took the dog for a walk, then I rolled the windows down a crack, put the seat back, and tried to doze off for a few minutes. After half an hour of sweating and shooing away mosquitoes, I felt okay enough to drive again. Somewhere around two am we stopped at a Waffle House in Tuscaloosa. The manager looked 20, had tattooed sleeves on both arms, and sat in a booth barking a few orders to the two older employees. There was a couple in a booth with a toddler. They looked Arabic -- she wore a headscarf. Under normal circumstances I wouldn\'t expect to see Muslims in Tuscaloosa, let alone at 2 am with a wide-awake toddler, eating waffles. One of the odder points in a very odd trip.\r\n\r\nMy husband is not one for long drives. He grew up Uptown and works uptown, and he could never consider moving as far away as Kenner, because it would be JUST TOO FAR to drive every day. Like he\'d have to camp out halfway, just to survive. Sheesh. On a non-stop drive to Colorado some years before, my daughter and I determined that he was tolerable only if a) driving, or b) totally unconscious. Anything in the middle was obnoxious. So I was expecting the worst. But no. He was wonderful. He kept calling me on the CB radio -- okay, often to say \"Where the hell ARE you? How fast are you going? I can\'t even see you!\" -- but more often he was just being funny. Charmingly funny, kindly, cleverly, hysterically, heartbreakingly, glad-I-married-him funny. He\'s infamous at home and work for his mood swings. They didn\'t exist that day. I\'m not sure if it was just a case of rising to the occasion, or if his guardian angel had the Evil Twin throttled for the duration, but I was grateful for it that night and still am.\r\n\r\nWe left Metairie around 10 am Sunday and straggled into suburban Chattanooga around 6 am Monday. We hugged everyone, let the dog into the back yard, and went down to the basement bedroom to crash for five hours. When we woke up, the levees were broken.\r\n\r\nKatrina followed our path to Tennessee. She arrived some time after we did, fizzling out to an unimpressive rainstorm by then.\r\n\r\nThere is so, so much more to tell, but it\'s 1:30 am now and my feet are swelling from sitting here so long. We got back after six weeks, the house was damaged but unflooded. \r\n\r\nThe diet Mug root beer can was still stuck in among the irises under the sweet gum tree in the front yard. Guess that holy water did the trick.\r\n\r\nOh, and I have some pretty good photos of the evacuation, but they are all on disks that we packed up when we evacuated for Gustav, and I haven\'t unpacked them yet.\r\n\r\nMaybe when the hurricane season\'s over.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n


“[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed June 17, 2024, https://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/42978.