I am writing this on Sunday afternoon, September 25, 2005 from our son Jeremy’s home in Dallas where the four generations of our family in Houston came last Thursday to escape Hurricane Rita’s expected arrival there on Friday/Saturday. We did not anticipate that three million other pilgrims would be travelling west and north from Houston that same day! The trip from our homes in Houston to Jeremy & Kristy’s home in north Dallas normally takes about five hours. This time our daughter Melanie, son-in-law Michael and their two little ones left at 4:00 a.m. and got to Dallas 14 hours later. Meanwhile, Sara Faye, her 93-year-old mom and I left at 7:00 a.m. and arrived 18 hours later.
Most of the usual food, water and restroom stops were closed. There were almost no stations with any gasoline (we were graced to find one with a 30-minute wait in a very tense line). The highways, including back roads we took to avoid major highways and also Interstate 45 North which was necessary for most of our journey, were virtual parking lots. Hundreds of vehicles ran out of fuel or broke down for other reasons along the roadsides — many carrying whole households including infants and the elderly.
We are filled with gratitude that our entire family arrived safely in Dallas. Meanwhile, we have reason to hope that our homes fared okay (we have no specific knowledge but the television reports indicate that west Houston was largely spared damage by wind and it is safely inland regarding hurricane surge). We praise God for his indiscriminate kindness as we now try to plan our return so as to minimize the probability of highway gridlock going home. Such an experience really puts things in perspective. Never again will I take normal, uneventful road trips for granted, or fail to be thankful for plentiful gasoline, open rest stops and available food and water!
Let us all pray for (and help as we have opportunity and means) those in southeast Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere who bore the brunt of this hurricane. Let us give thanks that this storm weakened somewhat before making landfall. Let us remember from such apparently random acts of nature just how frail, vulnerable and mortal we all are on this earth. And let us focus our minds, set our affections and live our lives in ways appropriate to those undeniable realities.