Thoughts on one man’s evacuation
I’m not a good poker player. When I do play, which is seldom, I prefer a high stakes game of matchsticks or pennies because I know I’m going to lose.
There’s an old educational expression: “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Some call it the “Pygmalion Effect” (or something like that).
Essentially, it suggests that whatever we expect to happen will indeed take place.
I believe that. I always lose at the slots in Lake Charles. We go about once a month or so. I lose. My wife wins. Truth is, I could save several hours each month by simply tearing a $100 bill in half and tossing it in the trash.
So it came as quite a surprise when I guessed right on the recent evacuation for Gustav. (For my critics out there, bare your teeth.
Here’s another of those weird names). We did plan to evacuate. We went last time with Rita as an escort. Talk about a shell-shocking experience. And hey, if you went, you know what I mean. It took us 25 hours to reach Fort Worth.
So this time, I had a plan.
Not my own, but one engendered by a gent much smarter than I, my dentist. I know, I know. Dentists are known for engendering pain, not wisdom, but believe me they can do both.
When I complained to him about the nerve-wracking tedium of the evacuation, he claimed he had no problem. He hopped in the car and zipped up to Shreveport.
No way, I claimed.
Sure, he replied. He left after the evacuation; after all of us dummies had pulled out and left the roads clear as spring water.
That was my plan this time.
So, when the Mid-County slot time came to leave, I was casually fitting boards over the windows, pausing for an occasional cool libation. From time to time, I popped down to see what the storm was doing.
Nothing had changed. Still headed for Louisiana.
Now, I’ve got to admit, those dedicated TV folks were mighty persuasive in talking up the evacuation. More than once when I was standing on the ladder, I thought that maybe we best hurry up and scoot out of here.
The threats made by the various authorities were chilling. “When we leave, you’ll have no protection. You must take care of yourself. No one will be around to help.”
Oh yes, the anchors were always certain to remind us if we remained, to have plenty batteries and water.
And it was the truth. These dedicated and earnest folks were doing all they could to help us. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t beginning to have second thoughts about waiting until mere hours before the storm hit.
But, old Gustav stuck doggedly to the same track.
Finally, we decided that since it was scheduled to hit mid morning or so, we’d head out ahead of it if he decided to scoot west along the coast. He didn’t, so we didn’t.
Yeah, we stayed. Smart? I’m not well-known for that quality. This time, I was lucky, not smart.
For a spell, it appeared many had evacuated right into the course of the storm. Fortunately for them, he veered north.
I know some will complain the evacuation was unnecessary. Folks, you have to look at the worst-case scenario. What if they’d called it too late, and the storm hit while we were sitting in our cars? Better sitting in a shelter safe and sound than in a car rocked by hundred mile per hour winds. Even a dummy like me knows that.
Our local officials, our radio staffs, and the TV personnel all did a remarkable job looking out for us (even a jerk like me) and keeping us informed as to current conditions.
I’m sitting here now looking out the window Monday afternoon watching the wind pick up just as those in previous paragraph said it would.
No one wants to make a decision affecting thousands of citizens, but our local officials knew it had to be done. They did it. And that’s why we put them there.
No one forced the radio and TV personnel to endure long hours with little sleep, thousands of unanswered questions, and grabbing bites of food in bits and pieces.
But personally, I want to thank them.
I hope they don’t have to do it again.