Escaping Hurricane Rita: An Evacuation Nightmare

As most of you know the week of September 22nd, 2005 was an utter chaos here in Texas. Hurricane Rita was making its way into the Gulf Coast causing the whole south to Panic, was there anything worse than the thought of being victims of a devastating Hurricane, after seeing our neighbors in New Orleans?

Well, the situations were different. But the scare and panic were there. TV Stations started to blast updates on the Hurricane every five minutes.

Wednesday night it hit me even more, while watching the news with my roommate. It was bad and it could have been a total catastrophe! “Category 5,” says the news anchor “But if there was a category 6 this would be it!” Not Panic? How when all you can think of is what will happen if I lose my house?

The Mayor of Houston had announced a voluntary evacuation for the city and mandatory in some parts of town. All I could do was find a place to go to and let all my loved ones know where I would be and that I loved them.

As that night approached my roommate and I were packing and trying to decide when to leave in the morning, but the more we talked about it, the more we got scared and decided to leave the same night, like 2 million of other Houstonians and people from Galveston, Friendswood etc. As we were driving to leave my car at my father’s house ran in the first glimpse of the horrifying traffic ahead of us.

Starting out from leaving my car and jumping in with my roommate, we already saw 3 gas stations running out of gas-fortunately for us we had a full tank, but decided to ride with out air conditioning to preserve it. At first it was all right since at this point it was 3 AM, but the lack of A/C in Texas heat it took a toll on us and others. It took us an hour to get back on the freeway that was probably just 7 miles. We knew insanity was ahead of us. As we were drenched in sweat but readily prepared with a cooler full of water bottles, tuna in cans, bread, ham and cheese, we were heading for the biggest journey of our lives. We were Evacuees!

It seemed people stopped behaving as humans and started to act more like wild beasts in this long journey of survival. The elderly, children and animals were mistreated by their own families- an elderly man in his seventies sat behind a pick up truck sweating like a pig with no shade nor water to preserve him, babies were carried my their mothers in 100 degree weather to go look for a convenience store and, pets were abandoned to die off the freeway! People started yelling at each other for small insignificant reasons- the heat and panic had gotten to them. This was not a “standard” evacuation -it was survival of the fittest.

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