2 Years Ago Today…

Two years ago today, I spent the day in front of a computer DSL’ed to the internets, which was in front of a TV that went back and forth between CNN and the Weather Channel.

I was at my parent’s house near Hot Springs, Arkansas, having arrived there the day before, after fleeing my home in Slidell, Louisiana, in advance of Hurricane Katrina.

I had been tracking the storm, which had hit Florida a few days before. I had an amateur theory that if a hurricane was in the Gulf, and it was north of say, Sarasota, Florida and east of the mouth of the river, there was no way it would end up hitting New Orleans. Every storm in the past inevitably curved to the east as it moved north; if it was east of the mouth of the river and north of central Florida, it would be impossible for it to hit New Orleans, right?

Katrina almost fit this bill. As it crossed Florida and entered the Gulf, it started turning north. All the experts and computer models had it going east as it traveled north. It was to curve and hit back in the Florida panhandle somewhere.

But it kept going west, and not north, and then started going north, but not east, on a path straight to New Orleans. And as it went north, but not east, it grew quickly, and big and strong.

So Saturday night, I was at my cousin’s house. We were trying to decide whether to leave or not. I’m on my own, but she had two kids, a husband, 4 cats, a dog, and a tarantula to move, so it was not an easy decision for them. Most everyone else I knew had already evacuated.

As we watched the TV Saturday evening, there was still a chance the storm would turn east and hit Alabama. I got the two kids chanting with me, “Mobile!, Mobile!, Mobile!” while throwing a gris-gris gesture at the satellite picture, pushing the storm away from New Orleans. The five year-old thought that was fun. I went home, no decision had been made.

At 5am on Sunday, my cousin called and woke me up. Exact quote, “Get your ass up and leave.” It had not turned, it was still headed right for us, and was now Category 5. She and her husband came over and helped board up the house. I was already packed, and left around 8:30 to head north to Arkansas. A quick stop at the office to get my computer and some other stuff, and away I went.

After a fairly uneventful 9 hour drive to Arkansas, I arrived at my parent’s home just as the outer bands of Katrina were hitting New Orleans.

Stay tuned for more…

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