So we made it! After 10.5 hours on the road, and much humor during several incredibly long stops along IH-59, at about 12:30a.m. today we made it to Montgomery, Alabama and the beautiful LaQuinta Inn. But there was much humor along the way.
I had no plans on evacuating. I figured, someone has to stick it out and insure our government officials open the NOLA doors to EVERYONE this time. But Jacob and Ray convinced me otherwise. Jacob wouldn't leave town without me (there was this 'compromise' of sorts: he would leave if I allowed him to fly to Dallas with his girlfriend. I had these terrible visions of a grandchild named Gustav or Gustavia nine months from now; I laughed as only a mother of a seriously smitten 15-year old can), and Ray, well our Mayor made the decision for me.
Ray Nagin found some humor in stating "All looters will be taken directly to jail. Not parish prison, but the big-house -- Angola." And then he smiled. Guys, I'm not sure whether my reaction was sane, but all I could think of was Hi from Raisin' Arizona, going to the big-house for holding someone up for Huggies! I mean, seriously -- where does he get this stuff. I'm a law and order gal, but sending folks to gen-pop at Angola for stealing Huggies, or a flat-screen, seems a tad-bit draconian. Call me wacky.
So we hit the road at 1:45p.m. yesterday. We were rolling, that is, until IH-59. What was really going on with the Mississippi State Police and its version on contra-flow. No flow. Contrary-to-flow. We travelled 62 miles in 4.5 hours. I had a teenager and a dog with me. I know God would never forgive me for killing them, but I had become convinced I would receive a reprieve for suicide.
At the end of the day, humor and the kindess of strangers gets me through. You know, when people you've never met offer you Crown & Coke through your window (I think they suspended the drinking and driving rules). Watching grown men get out and relieve themselves just along the side of the road. Then watching a grown woman get out and do the same. As she squatted she yelled "Y'all seen this before, so just excuse me, while I excuse me." I wasn't mad at her. And then, when we finally got to Interstate 65, and I stopped for a break and oil for the car, having 2 men offer to help (and give me their numbers, just in case I decide to move to Alabama permanently, and want to settle with a normal, hard-working man, who would bring home his check to me every week). I wanted to leave him Jacob and the dog.
More seriously, during the course of this evacuation, I was able to connect with many advocates throughout the country, all of whom have offered help. There is a website up and running -- www.gustavsolidarity.org. Contact Brian Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org) to add content. As many of you know, on Friday I began collecting contact information for NOLA advocates. After Sunday, Nicole Gillies took over coordination of the list, and if you would like to add your information, and receive the list, please contact Nicole at email@example.com. Kali Akuno and Pam Nath are coordinating a conference call this afternoon, so that we can discuss any needed advocacy. Please send me an email if you would like to be connected and I'll send you the call-in information. Also, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center will also start a Gustav website. They are still in discussions on same, but you may want to check out their site late this evening.
Finally, www.JusticeRoars.org will serve as a blog-site for advocates. You can comment to this post, or simply send me an email with your post, and I will include same within the hour. I don't do the edit thing guys, so please self-moderate (no cussin'). Politically-incorrect is acceptable.
Folks can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care of yourselves. Don't stay glued to 24-hour t.v. -- it will just make you crazy!