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Running from Rita

In pictures, our bad luck in evacuating (photos of where we abandoned the cars, and a hint of our harrowing 36 hour journey) and our great fortune in very little damage from a major hurricane...

We left as we were supposed to. To carry out our entire family, pets included, it took both cars. So yes, we had two cars on the road. But that's not where the real fault in the horrible evacuation lay. It lay in too many towns evacuating---officials telling people to evacuate who didn't need to. It lay in not having a well-established evacuation route that could handle the number of cars that would evacuate, especially after Katrina. And mainly, it lay in not opening the highways for contraflow BEFORE the evacuation. Not to mention closed stores, closed or empty gas stations, and not enough supplies. In record heat, we parked on major highways, inhaling exhaust and sweltering from heat, moving maybe a foot an hour. The baby got very sick, but recuperated quickly once we got medical attention. On our own.

Nobody could help. Nobody would help. We managed, through the kindness of family, to arrive safely at a safe destination.

Thousands weren't as lucky. I wish I knew how many people camped out in their cars for days.

And 107 didn't make it out alive.

What bothers me is that it really ended up not being necessary. So next time? We might be the people who refuse to evacuate. After our experience, we believe that is a much higher risk that hunkering down.

Run from water, hide from wind. That's the rule. We ran from a predicted storm surge that would have swamped our lower floor. Next time, I'll take my chances I think.

As an aside, we took the water very seriously and moved everything upstairs. This we did despite having insurance. In fact, we took the water threat more seriously than the wind and banked on the the wind not taking off our roof. The irony is...there was no water or surge near us and the only damage came from wind. It's funny that way. We have no complaints.

By Julie Pippert
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© 2005. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.


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