We were heading for Baton Rouge. I was studying for my BSN at Southern in Baton Rouge at the time and I didn’t want to miss class. We got on interstate but, got on the wrong side of the contraflow(that’s the weirdest thing to see, traffic heading the same way on both sides of the interstate)…the contraflow for Baton Rouge was on the other side so, we decided to go to Shreveport. A little passed the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway, we hit gridlock. We were sitting there for so long that people starting getting outta their cars and walking around. Here in NOLA (and I mean all surrounding parishes) there’s no such thing as strangers so naturally, we all started talking to one another. Everyone asking everyone else, “where ya headin’?” While in gridlock,it started to rain. We saw the feeder bands rolling in. The hurricane would hit sooner than Monday night.
Instead of heading to Shreveport, contraflow once again flowed us in another direction and we aimed for the closest hotel we could find.
There was none. We stopped for gas, looked for hotels…none.
While driving through different parishes, every time we passed a bridge, they had people on it with signs that said,
“God Bless You,” “Be Safe”…they were standing in the rain with them. I began to cry looking at those signs.
We decided to go to Memphis, Tennessee.
By now, we’d already been driving for 12 hours.
It’s 11:30 p.m. and a lot of people were still with us…I guess we were all heading for Tennessee.
I’m behind NavySeal and I’m watching him swerve to the left and then to the right. He’s getting tired. I found myself swerving as well.
We drove for another 5 hours and finally found a hotel in Memphis. The hotel was full but, a lady said that she didn’t need one of her rooms and that we could have that one. The hotel clerk says, she couldn’t just give us her room, she had to do something first, can’t remember what.The nice lady who was going to give us the room got into a big argument with the hotel clerk about it (NOLA people sticking together in a crisis) we told her we’d find some place else and left. A man told us to check a little town in Arkansas not too far from Memphis.
We drove about 30 minutes more. We’d officially been on the road for 17 long hours before we hit Forrest City, Arkansas.
At 5:00 a.m. Monday morning,we finally had a hotel room. It was the last room available at the hotel.
Totally exhausted, we all went to sleep in this little town in Arkansas.
When we woke up, there was over 1000 people from the greater NOLA area in the town with us.
My car, which had a leak in the radiator NEVER ran hot…I didn’t have to add water the entire 17 hours on the road.
The first of many miracles.