with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Escaping Hurricane Katrina: We’re in Atlanta

weather.com satellite image of hurricane katrinaWe are safe and out of Mobile, Alabama, and away from Hurricane Katrina. We left early Sunday morning and are now in Atlanta, Georgia. Right now, we have a WIFI connection but we’re not sure how long it will last.

Friends of ours and their families have evacuated from New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, but the news is not good. Many of them may be unable to return for weeks or months. We’re hoping that Mobile will be spared, though it’s encompassed in the hurricane at the east side, so we’re not sure when we will also return.

Winds have been measured with gusts over 200 mph and the storm surge (waves) are expected to exceed 20 feet. New Orleans and the rest of the area are ready to handle much less of an impact, so flooding, sand, mud, and massive damage is expected.

…STORM SURGE FLOOD AND STORM TIDE IMPACTS…
KATRINA IS EXPECTED TO MAKE LANDFALL ALONG THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO COAST AS A CATASTROPHIC AND LIFE THREATENING HURRICANE. WHILE EXACT LANDFALL OF LANDFALL IS UNCERTAIN AT THIS TIME…SIGNIFICANT AND LIFE THREATENING STORM SURGE 18 TO 22 FEET ABOVE NORMAL. A FEW AREAS MAY EXPERIENCE STORM SURGE FLOODING AS HIGH AS 28 FEET ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL. SECONDARY ROADS OUTSIDE LEVEE PROTECTION WILL LIKELY BECOME IMPASSABLE THIS EVENING AND TONIGHT.

KATRINA IS FORECAST TO MOVE ASHORE AS CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE…SIMILAR IN STRENGTH TO HURRICANE CAMILLE IN 1969. WINDS ASSOCIATED CATEGORY 4 AND CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE CAN TOTALLY DESTROY MOBILE HOMES AND POORLY CONSTRUCTED DWELLINGS…AND CAUSE MAJOR DAMAGE TO EVEN WELL CONSTRUCTED BUILDINGS. HIGHER WIND SPEEDS WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY STRONGER ON UPPER FLOORS OF TALL BUILDINGS CAUSING DAMAGE.
NOAA New Orleans Local Weather Hazard Advisory

According to a CNN Article on Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, the damage is expected to be so severe that many people will not be able to return home for weeks, maybe months. All windows are expected to be broken out, wood buildings possibly severely damaged or destroyed, with cement buildings also threatened by blowing debris and flooding – the damage is expected to be very severe, possibly the worst ever in recorded hurricane history.

We heard on NPR that many of the beautiful balconies in the French Quarter and Bourbon Street area are expected to be seriously damaged with flooding possibly even reaching the second floor or more from the storm surges. The anticipated results of Hurricane Katrina just don’t get better.

As for us, we got up at 4:30 in the morning today and finished the final preparations for leaving. The wood and a few patio furniture items are still covered with plastic and tied down securely from Hurricane Dennis. My vegetable and herb garden was pruned back and all the pots were tied down between a power pole and a huge three with a lattice work of rope hopefully keeping the heavy pots from blowing around. I cut an armful of basil and it is hanging in the bathroom to dry, filling the trailer with the smell of Italian cooking.

The roads out of Mobile were busier than usual for a Sunday early morning, but not heavy. We saw a lot of license plates and other RVs from Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, but this is normal on Interstate 10 and 65. As we drove through the rising heat of the day, we noticed the traffic getting lighter and lighter on the highway going in the opposite direction. So the huge convoy of military vehicles and another of electrical and utility repair crews heading south were easily spotted.

These are the people going into the storm to help protect the area and people as well as to immediately begin the repairs and restoration of the damaged area. They will wait at the very edge of the worst of the store, risking being a potential target if the storm twists their way, and then rush in within minutes of getting the all clear signal to assess the damage and begin the work.

We couldn’t pick up the Mobile NPR station, a normal event since the signal isn’t very powerful, but we could pick up the NPR station out of Mississippi and they were reporting that the early morning evacuation of the coastal areas was going fine – no traffic jams, though traffic was heavier than usual. They urged people to get out now while the traffic was light. Many complied. All the highways leading out of New Orleans were reverse flowed, so all lanes of traffic were heading out.

NOAA Satellite Picture of Hurricane KatrinaWe had debated about heading towards Texas, wanting to stay on the west side of the storm, but Brent’s meeting Tuesday in Atlanta, and the predictions that the storm would wrap around Atlanta, urged us to choose there. I’m glad we did as Sunday morning, as all traffic out of New Orleans was forced north, east, and west, with Interstate 10 being all lanes east or west out of New Orleans. For one of the most traveled highways in the US – this is an amazing achievement as well as action. We couldn’t have crossed the state of Louisiana without driving way north if we wanted to, being forced to reverse our direction if we crossed Mississippi towards New Orleans. Atlanta became the confirmed destination.

A friend had loaned Brent Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October on CD. When there was no new news on the slow moving storm, we got lost in the military spy novel of the ruin of Communist Russia. I wish we’d had something more light hearted, but this is what we had with us. Teaches us to prepare better for the next hurricane. Did I just say that!!

Late last night, I told some friends from WordPress online that I was heading out in the morning. They kept telling me to get out now. I told them that we had to finish packing and cleaning things up. One young man said, “If it were my house, I’d leave it messy and go.”

I laughed and a few others who knew me better also laughed. He didn’t realize that we take our house with us when we go. My mother calls us turtles, “house on your back”, as our house goes with us when we travel. When we arrived at a campground in Atlanta, Brent phoned his brother-in-law to tell the family that we were safe and sound.

“I’m going to have some dinner then sit down and play some guitar. After all, I’m home.”

There is something to be said about taking your home with you when you go.

One Comment

  • Ida Meijer
    Posted August 30, 2005 at 1:12 | Permalink

    Just found that you are okay in Atlanta!
    Was worried about you, looking at CNN last night.
    So wonderful that you keep us posted on your blog. And how lucky you are to have your home with you.
    Here all is fine.
    Love from Ida.

One Trackback

  • […] Currently, my husband and I are among the millions of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. We left Mobile, Alabama, our temporary residence, early Sunday morning and headed for Atlanta, Georgia, to wait out the storm. So I thought I would take a look at who is blogging about Hurricane Katrina. […]

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