Dodged a Bullet?

Gibbons put it perfectly this morning when he said that he thought that we had dodged a bullet. It looks like the worst case scenario that everyone was afraid of didn’t happen and Hurricane Katrina’s slight shift to the right spared New Orleans the worst of its fury. I feel for those who ended up directly in its path – particularly Mary Shea and Joe who live in Pearlington.

I am writing from our hotel room in Austin, TX where we arrived around noon yesterday. After a few hours of sleep on Saturday night, Gibbons and I awoke around 2:30 am and left our home at about 3:30 am. Our timing turned out to be perfect as we encountered little if any traffic along the way. There was a steady stream of cars from New Orleans to the Texas border, but the contra-flow worked beautifully and we moved along over 60 mph pretty much the whole way save for one or two minor slow-downs. We sighed a great big sigh of relief as we listened to the news reports and heard of the increasing traffic after the 4 am update indicating that the storm was going to make a direct hit and that it was likely to be a category 5.

While driving, we spent much of our time on our cell phones ensuring that Gibbons’ family were all out of harm’s way or on their way out, as well as letting my family know that we were on our way to a safe location. Isabel and Eliot slept until just after dawn and were GREAT travelers. Isabel enjoyed looking behind us and watching the beautiful sunrise.

We are staying an all suite hotel in north Austin which is very close to the office of the company for which Gibbons’ works. Its a very nice clean hotel, and we have a moderate size space with a separate bedroom and a kitchen. When we arrived yesterday we stocked up with groceries and took the kids for a swim to get out some of their pent up energy.

After picking up a few necessities, we spent a better part of the morning glued to the television watching reports from along the Gulf Coast hoping to see the outcome of the storm in New Orleans. Its been a tough time given the uncertainty. I am concerned for the safety of all those who have suffered as a result of this storm, but I have to admit that my biggest concern right now is seeing what has happened to our home. We’re also concerned about looting given that we might not be able to get back to New Orleans for some time. Though, having said that, there isn’t really much that I’d care if they took. Our most valuable possessions are here with us, and I’m just happy to know that we are all safe and that it looks like our house won’t end up under 20 feet of water.

Many have asked, and – no – we don’t have flood insurance. We decided against it as the premiums are ridiculously high for obvious reasons. So, while we would prefer no damage or minimal damage, its actually much better for us if a tree falls on our house, our windows are broken, or a tornado flattens our house than if it floats away in a flood. Odd thing to say since all are definitely less than desirable, but true.

Our brother-in-law, Michael, is planning to fly over New Orleans in a helicopter tomorrow sometime and has indicated that he will fly over our house and let us know the extent of the damage that he can see from the air – but we suspect that Gibbons’ Dad, Peter, will be driving back to New Orleans from Covington even before then and will inform us of anything critical (assuming, of course, that he can get there!).

Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you for all of your words of support and well wishes. It means a lot to us. This isn’t an easy thing to experience and I never thought I would have to go through it (Gibbons has been through it before as a child) – but here I am and all I can do is make the best of it and take it day by day. We, as a family, are working our hardest to get through this together as best we can and aside from a few tears here and there (mostly mine!), we seem to be succeeding in our efforts.

Thank you again and we’ll keep you updated of any developments.

Here we go again…

So what is the LAST thing you’d want to do after traveling some 3000 miles by car over the last few weeks? Perhaps get in your car and drive somewhere again? Even worse because a major hurricane is heading your way?

Presently, we are under a hurricane watch and voluntary evacuation. After much back and forth and hoping for Hurricane Katrina to shift to the west or east, we have decided to leave town and head to Austin, Texas. We will be leaving early in the morning after -hopefully – a good night sleep.

The latest course shows Katrina heading pretty much straight for New Orleans. While the rain forecasts are actually pretty minimal with only 4-5 inches of rain expected, the current models expect Katrina to build up to a category 4 storm by the time she makes landfall just south of New Orleans. That means winds of 133-155 miles/hour – they can do some pretty serious damage.

We expect to be available via cell phone and email while we’re away and hope to be back on Tuesday sometime depending on what happens. In the meantime, we’ll be praying for those who are unable to leave and hope that we will return to minimal damage in the city.

We will keep you posted of any developments, but we are safe and will be safe in Austin!