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September 01, 2008

View of Hurricane Gustav from Tornado Alley

There is an area of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas that is called Tornado Alley due to the number of tornadoes that hit this part of the country every year.  I grew up in Tornado Alley and you learn at a young age:  1)Make sure your house has a basement and 2)Warm weather means more tornadoes.   I thought nothing could be as scary having only minutes to take cover before a tornado struck.  I was wrong.  I learned that hurricanes are a very scary and very different kind of natural disaster.

In 1998, my husband and I were at a business conference in New Orleans.  It was September and it was "Hurricane Season" but no one seemed to be bothered about a Tropical Storm heading for the Big Easy. As a former resident of "Tornado Alley" I was a bit on edge but it wasn't until the city started putting up sand bags that I decided to book my flight home early.    I changed my flight and got out of the city just as the panic was setting in.  In the hours between making my flight change, the forecasts for a big storm grew worse and there were suddenly mobs of people that wanted out of New Orleans----NOW.  At the New Orleans airport, it was a like a scene out of a movie with so many people wanting to get on planes and only limited number of tickets.    

My husband and the rest of the people we were  at the conference with could not get a flight out of town-----they were barely able to get a rental car to drive back home.  Once my husband and friends started to drive back home, it took almost a day to reach what would normally take 2 hours of driving, there were so many cars on the road trying to get away from the hurricane danger zone.

It took my husband two days to get back home. They slept in a crowded Red Cross shelter at an elementary school because there were no hotel rooms to be found anywhere----and they felt fortunate to find room at the shelter.  My husband told me that I was on one of the last planes out of the city before the airport canceled flights, so I'm glad I listened to my "mother's intuition" and booked early. 

The 1998 experience turned out to be a false alarm for New Orleans. After all the panic and people leaving the city, the Hurricane was just a "storm".  Thank goodness for the fact that this storm was not a big one but I can't imagine having to evacuate my home and my city a few times every season----it would be nerve racking and so scary.

I feel for all of the people in the Gulf facing Hurricane Gustav. My prayers and the prayers of my family are with all these people in the next few days.  I only lived a little of the "Hurricane" lifestyle and that was enough for me. The picture in this post is of the F5 Tornado that leveled Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007.

This post is an original post to Deep South Moms.

When Michelle Lamar is not writing for Deep South Moms, she is promoting her new book, The White Trash Mom Handbook, based on her irreverent parenting blog. 

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