Part the second: The long and grinding road.

After we made the decision to keep moving, we had to decide what to do with the animals. Up until this point, both Tony and I were very focused on our plan. We weren’t worried. We weren’t rattled. We were focused on our goal. North was our goal. The burned out clutch did it for Tony, though. He was feeling a little defeated. How does one fit two chickens, a rabbit, and two snakes–one very, very large–into a car that’s already holding a bunch of stuff and two kids aged 7 and 4 years?

Well, you unload stuff into the truck that you DON’T think you’ll need, you pack extra stuff in around the children, you put the chickens’ box and the rabbit’s carrier into a big plastic bag to hold the things they tend to leave behind, and you (while trying to not vomit) offer your two zippered bags to your husband for the housing of the reptiles.

The cornsnake landed in my new rainbow striped purse, and the boa went into a large red bag that my aunt had given to me.

Sarah, who was blogging at the time, had a comment for that: “You really earned your hilltop mansion when you evacuated with an 8 foot snake in your purse!! “ I had no choice but to agree.

After everyone got settled into the car, we took off sat there just like we were before. We were listening to the radio as much as we could. There was non-stop coverage of the evacuation. The local ABC t.v. station was being broadcast on the radio when two government officials made some rather unfortunate statements. They are as follows.

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas on the gasoline shortage due to stations closing:
“We told people at the beginning of the week to top off their tanks. I guess they just didn’t take that seriously.”

Again, Sarah had this to say about Governor Perry’s stupidity, “Um, Rick, what sort of vehicles are in the gubernatorial motorcade that can idle for 10-12 hours and don’t need gasoline? We gotta get some of those.” And, as I recently told Sarah, I don’t care HOW many people encourage me to top off my tank before leaving in the event of an evacuation. It STILL only holds 15 gallons.

His idiotic comment was not only broadcast on local t.v., but also to millions of cars on the freeway in a 300 mile radius. I actually heard the man say it in real time, then looked at Tony and said, “Did he really just say what I thought he said?” To which he replied, “Yep. I heard the revolver click when he shot himself in the foot.”

The next was from Bill White, mayor of Houston on the traffic congestion and stalling cars:
“Well, there was much more congestion on the evacuation routes than we thought because more people left than we thought. We only thought those in the evacuation zone would leave.”

Why did so many people leave, and why were we all sitting on the freeways? Well, not only had New Orleans just been totally devastated by Katrina, but a meteorologist that I have very high regard for was reporting at 4:45 on the morning before that IF Rita hit us (and was at that time on a direct course for Galveston Bay) and if it were even just a category 3 hurricane, that I would have winds of 100 mph at my house some 50 miles from the coast. I guess houses that can stand 100 mph sustained winds for up to 6 hours are built for those who can afford the cars Sarah mentioned. It seemed at that point that Houston and all surrounding areas were the evacuation zone.


3 thoughts on “Part the second: The long and grinding road.

  1. Stephanie

    Stranger than fiction! And I’m amazed by your uncanny ability to recall dialog – or in this case, Mr. Rick’s foot shooting comment on the radio. Really, the whole evacuation, filled as it were by many stalled cars and empty gas tanks, was an improvement over the one in New Orleans. One could say that the masses did learn from experience, though the process is still in need of tweaking.

    Maybe there ought to be trucks with gas positioned every few miles along the evacuation route. I know a way we could get Wal-Mart to force stock their bay area stores with extra items about a week before the storm.) If the storm blows over, Wal-Mart and the government can write it off as “Disaster Preparation” as opposed to “Relief” or as Melanie theorized, “Disaster Prevention!”

  2. Two years hence, I STILL remember Rick Perry’s comment AND Sarah’s rebuttal to it as well as several other things. . .but it is also saved for posterity over on Sarah’s blog in the comments.

    Yes, Texas learned from New Orleans’ mistakes and then Texas learned from its own. There are now measures in place to station pumper trucks along the freeways at certain spots as well as turning ALL LANES–even southbound lanes–into NORTH bound lanes until about 50 miles outside of the city so both sides of the freeways can be used for evacuation. During Rita, the entire south bound side of the freeways were deserted while we were all packed on the northbound side. By Friday night all the folks who had been stranded on the roadsides had been delivered enough gas to get them to the nearest shelter. . .but it was a close call.

    We evacuated (or attempted to) on a Thursday morning by 5:00, and the storm hit early Saturday morning, so though we left (essentially) in time, so did a lot of other residents. Houston is the 4th largest city in the nation, with 2 million inside the city limits and another 1 1/2 million in the surrounding areas. . .so when you have 3+million all going the same direction, you’re gonna have traffic and gas problems.

    I have no doubt that mistakes will continue to be made, but I’m hoping we continue to learn the lessons as well.

  3. Pingback: No Dodging This Time « It be’s that way sometimes.

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