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Hurricane Rita: A Learning Experience

It has been a while since I posted last. The job and personal commitments have kept me busy.

For the first time in my life, I have to face a hurricane. This was a new experience for me, but as in everything in life, one can learn from it.

Darla (my wife), Kristine (my daughter), Miss Ruby (my 86 year old mother in law), Olivia (Kristine's 2 1/2 month old Shishu) and I left Deer Park, Texas at 6:00am on Thursday morning. It took us six hours to get to the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy. We traveled Beltway 8, side roads, city streets, and eventually to Katy, where we stopped for a bathroom break.

Traffic was bumper to bumper, and trying to keep three vehicles together took the strategy and planning that we learned for being teachers, coaches, and journalists for so many years.

After that we headed for Interstate 10 and found it to be packed (as we knew it would). We took to the farm roads and, as my father would have said, went into the sticks. We finally got to Brookshire and to the eastbound 10 where they had changed it to westbound.

It was unique to travel on the other side of the road. All you could see was the backs of signs.

We arrived in Columbus about 5:00pm and headed north on US 71. Traffic was good until Smithville, and we were back to bumper to bumper traffic to almost Austin.

We finally got to Austin at 9:00pm, checked into our hotel, and flopped into bed.

After two days of cutting lumber, boarding up the house, packing up as much as we could, and driving for 15 hours, we have never been so tired in our life.

It is amazing how adversity brings everybody together. Some of our neighbors were also boarding up and bugging out. It was very gratifying to see us all helping each other.

If somebody needed something, we were there for them, and they were there for us.

Darla, Kristine, and Ruby were real troopers. Darla and Miss Ruby went through Carla and the 60s and Miss Ruby went through Alicia in the 80s. They knew what to do, but this was all new for Kristine and me.

Darla was the best. She had been through this before. We got together, set up a plan, and got it done. I knew Texas women were tough, and Darla showed what she could do in an emergency. I was always glad I married a Texas girl. My father told me that marrying her was the best thing I ever did.

As parents, we have tried to raise our daughter the best we could and she showed how well we had done. She was out there, cutting lumber, hauling tree limbs off and doing whatever was required.

I told her this would be a story for her grandchildren. She just smiled and kept working. I guess all the stuff we have tried to teach her paid off. On the road, she drove without air conditioning all the way to Austin to save gas. She did what she had to do to take care of her car, her dog, and everything she was hauling.

This has been an experience. We will learn for it, take care of what we need to, and hopefully come though it in one piece.

Submitted by:

Robert H. Kelly

Robert H. Kelly is a sport writer from Texas. His writings on Texas sporting events and events with Texas participants attempt to provide a unique perspective not covered by mainstream media. He can be reached at texsportpub@aol.com.




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