Hurricanes and Marga-Ritas

Today's post is inspired by all the recent bad weather tornados across the country.  Prayers for those people.  Dave wrote this post because he remembers the experience clearly (as do I).
Growing up, I can’t recall ever needing to evacuate Austin. After moving to Houston, it seemed that people needed to flee major American cities on a regular basis.

First and most visible was New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. About a week or so later was Houston and Hurricane Rita (the subject of this post).

After Hurricane Katrina caused such catastrophe in New Orleans, people decided to err on the side of caution when Rita bore down on Houston. I was in my first year of graduate school at Rice and I believe we were finishing up a round of tests. Anyway, news came in that a hurricane was coming and all the local businesses, schools, and politicians decided that everyone in Houston needed to get out of Dodge.

Since graduate students are cooler than most, our class decided that we didn’t need to leave quite yet. Instead we decided to go out and drink Hurricanes and Marga-Ritas (get it?)

We all (Christa too) went to Brian O’Neals in Rice Village (Corrin thinks it was Two Rows but she’s wrong).

The night was fun. We stayed the night at our Kirby Drive apartment.

We were also clever. We decided to get up at 4  AM to beat everyone else out of Houston and drive to Austin to stay at my parents place (they were out of town).

The night was also a late night. 4 AM came way too early.

Well it turned out that the Explorer was low on gas and there was no gas in Houston. I parked it on the top floor of our apartment’s parking garage to avoid any flooding.

We decided to take Christa’s White Honda Accord because it had half a tank of gas and we figured it would be more fuel efficient.

We were still clever. We took Westpark Tollway to the ends of the earth (at the time it ended at Hwy 6). We were so clever, it only took 20 minutes.

However, travelling from Hwy 6 to Fry Rd took 2 hours (just a tad slower than normal). I-10 was parking lot. Apparently other folks wanted to leave Houston early as well.

We finally got to Fry Rd and went to HEB to load up on supplies. I trusted the girls to make good decisions.

After 20 minutes, they came back with a 10 slices of lunch meat, a loaf of French bread, and WOW Doritos (if you remember, these had Olestra which made them fat-free and which also made them evacuate your system at light speed).

Not optimal road trip fare… Also, not enough food for three people. Especially when one of them is me.

Five minutes after leaving HEB I asked the girls if they could make me a sandwich as I was driving. They had eaten all the food.

We were stuck in a sea of vehicles.

While we were stuck in the sea of vehicles we saw some craziness. Of course dozens of vehicles were broken down by the side of the road. But some creative folks actually had grills lit and cooking in their pickup beds while they were crawling down the highway.

We continued on the way and decide to take the back roads through Brookshire. We were so clever...

While no one had GPS or smart phones at the time, people did have keymaps. We weren’t so clever. A lot of people had keymaps. The backroads through Brookshire was a sea of vehicles.

Along the way we moved at a crawl.

Being humans, we had to stop and pee over the course of this drive. Along the backroads to Brookshire, the only place to do this was behind peoples’ houses. We chose the houses where dozens of other evacuees were gathered.

Even while laughing at us city folks, some nice folks had bands set up in their front yards to play music for us. Others were posted outside offering us water.

 We got to Brenham around 8 PM (this is normally a 1.5 hour drive, it took 14 hours). The Honda was on fumes. There was still no gas to be found.

Exhausted and defeated, we decided that we were done. We were going to ride out the storm camped out in the car in front of one of the parking lots near Hwy 36 and 290.

Then the Walmart across the street got gas.

We waited in a gas line for 2 hours.

We then noticed that all American cars have gas tanks on the left side of the car. We then noticed that the majority of Americans drive American cars. We then noticed that 50% of Walmart’s gas pumps were being unutilized. We then noticed that even after waiting in a gas line for 2 hours, people don’t want to back into an empty gas pump. We then noticed that people don’t like backing into places.

I’m very proud of this because got out of the car and started backing people into the unutilized pumps. Now we were moving.

An hour later we finally got to the front of the line.

People tried to cut. Apparently people don’t like waiting in a gas line for 3 hours.

Christa got mad and confronted them. Tempers were very frayed. Christa’s very good at confronting things. I even saw her confront her reflection in a mirror one time. She refused to be the first to break eye contact. She fainted from exhaustion a day later.

Brenham police had been stationed at the gas station to make sure there was no lawlessness.

Since they had seen me backing people into the pumps for an hour they knew where my place in line was. The cutters were booted to the back of the line.

With gas in the car we burned rubber and got to Austin in record speed (relatively speaking). It just took us another 6 hours (normally a 1.5 hour drive).

We crashed at my parents house. The trip from Houston to Austin typically takes 2.5 to 3 hours depending on how fast you drive. This one took us 23 hours.

Anyway, Rita largely missed Houston.

The next morning we got lunch at North-By-Northwest. They gave us our meal for free since we were evacuees.

We then headed back to Houston.

There was no traffic.  Life was good.  No damage...We missed it...That is why we stayed for Hurricane Ike..but that is another story:)

No comments: