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Old 09-23-2005, 09:38 PM
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Hurricane Rita update

For all my hotrodders.com friends here is an update on hurricane Rita. As most of you know I live in Southeast Texas, Nederland to be exact. It is right between Beaumont and Port Arthur, just where hurricane Rita is heading. We got out in time, but the journey was quite an ordeal. We left Nederland at about 9:30am Wednesday morning. The traffic was already building. I had earlier driven to Beaumont to pick up my parents about 7:00am and there was no traffic problem getting from Beaumont back to Nederland. When we eventually left at about 9:30 it was a different story as the authorities had given the evacuation order for south Jefferson county. We had three vehicles in our convoy, me in my Chevy truck, my wife and my parents in the Tahoe and my son with his Z06 Vette. We had loaded a bunch of photos, clothes, firearms and other stuff into my truck. The plan was to drive to Lumberton which is north of Beaumont about 6 or 8 miles. It took us 6 hours to drive from Nederland to Lumberton. The traffic was crawling at about 5 miles per hour when it was moving. Little did we know that that was only the beginning. When we reached my in laws place in Lumberton I put my truck in their garage to leave it there. My wife then drove my in laws car with them, I drove my wifes Tahoe with my parent and my son followed in the Vette. We were headed to Plano, Texas north of Dallas where my daughter and son in law live. We finally got here, but it was after a nightmarish journey of 26 hours. That is no exaggeration folks, 26 hours to travel from Nederland to Plano a total distance of about 350 miles. The traffic was absolutely horrendous. US 69 headed north was jam packed. They had converted the southbound lanes to northbound and they were packed also. We would sit idle for up to 45 minutes then move ten feet. The temp was 99, a record for that day in our area. Less fortunate people with older cars, or cars that had not been maintained were stranded all along the roadway. We saw fist fights and a car fire along the way. Gas was in short supply and the stations that did have it had lines several hundred cars long waiting to gas up. All our vehicles were full so we were good to go. We made it up to Colmesneil which is really not that far from our house. It had already gotten dark and we were starting to get concerned about fuel, Luckily we found a closed convenience store that had left their pumps on. They were out of everything but premium and it was going fast. We got back into traffic and started heading north to Lufkin then to Tyler. We made Lufkin about 3:00am and it was a total madhouse, there were cars stranded all over the place, traffic accidents, and people with families sleeping on the sides of the roads. We stopped at a Dollar general store parking lot for a brief rest. The lot was packed with other evacuees. We briefly thought about staying right there and just riding out the storm because traveling was getting really difficult. After about and hours rest we decided to get on the move again. Amazingly all three cars managed to stay together thought the entire trip. Getting through Lufkin was trying, but once we made it through US69 cleared up a bunch. We continued to be stalled every once and a while, but that was due to people waiting in long lines for gas. Once we made it to Tyler it was pretty much smooth sailing to Interstate 20 west to Dallas then Plano. We finally arrived at my daughters house about 1pm Thursday. We all got showers and a quick bight to eat then crashed for about 5 or 6 hours. We have been glued to the TV ever since.

Now for the hotrod. It is in my garage as it was in far to many pieces to move and we were under a time constraint and I had more pressing priorities. It is insured as is the house, and we have flood insurance. I fully expect to loose the house or at the least have substantial damage to it. I have no idea when we will get back down there as that depends on how much damage there is and when the authorities will allow residents back in. I will post an update as soon as we can get back down there and I have access to a PC.

Praying and hoping for the best
Vince
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