Friday, September 23, 2005

Perhaps I should explain...

I don't know why I feel I need to post this, but it has been brought to my attention that perhaps there are some people judging/criticizing those of us in the Houston area who have NOT evacuated. So, I decided to take the time to explain a few things.

I actually DID leave. I packed up my kids and left here at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning. A good friend of mine left at 3 a.m. that same morning. She got to Dallas in about double the time it normally takes. As for me...well, I drove for 5 hours and 40 minutes. Do you know how far I got?

30 freakin' MILES! I am not kidding. I reached the lovely rural community of Magnolia, Texas after more than 5 hours of driving. My darling kids, who hadn't cried or acted up once or even asked to go to the bathroom, needed a break and so did I. So, I stopped to get out of the car. I stood in line at a filthy convenience store for the bathroom with some really...well strange people. I had to use the most disgusting bathroom I have ever witnessed.

One amusing moment when I was at this store, you could hear some idiot laying on his horn while sitting in traffic just in front of the store. A big surly-looking guy yells back at the horn honker in his thick Texas drawl, "RELAAAAX, buddy! You're not going ANYWHERE! THIS AIN'T NEW YORK!"

About the time I got back in my car and started back on my trek, my husband called to tell me the storm had turned to the East. We live West of where all of this is, about 60 miles inland. I am NOT on the coast. I live in an area where officials were advising people to actually NOT evacuate so that the people from Galveston and the coast could have the roads. I still wanted to take my kids to my parents 6 hours away.

Instead, I spent 6 hours in gridlock watching my gas tank go down under 3/4 of a tank after traveling only a few miles into the long trip I had to make. I saw the writing on the wall. I'd be stranded with my children and no one to help us, like so many other people I saw interviewed on the news that day. When my husband called, he pleaded with me to come home. This was the man who, hours before, was very adamant that we leave.

And, I looked at my situation and what would lie ahead for me. IF I made it to the next larger city, without running out of gas or my car overheating, I would have nowhere to stay and would have to sit for hours in 100-degree heat with my kids and a ton of angry strangers who were also stranded until my parents could come and get us. I'd have to leave our car and hope that we could then get to our destination without my parents also running out of gas.

So, the decision for me to "stay" was quite simple actually. I said a few cuss words under my breath, u-turned around, and gassed it home. And, I literally got home in 25 MINUTES, which included driving through Chick-fil-a for our lunch!

I came home to a house that is completely stocked and ready for the worst. My in-laws, who live to the east of us, decided to come here because we're the most equipped and the furthest from the storm. It feels good to all be together and this feels right to me.

And, since then, I have never regretted coming back. My neighbors are all here too, aside from a few who left early enough to miss the traffic madness. I know that if later tonight the worst hits us, I will be in the most safe place I could be considering the situation.

I know to many who read about those of us who stayed, we may sound negligent and crazy. We are not. We are doing what is best and most prudent for our families given what we faced to leave. So, please don't judge and don't berate until you know what we faced...

Oh, and we haven't had a drop of rain even yet here, if you can believe it! The waiting game for Rita continues...more soon!

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