Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Value of being prepared

I read this the other day on a message board...

not sure of who wrote it, but it has been on my mind a few days...

gonna rotate my fuel stocks this weekend. think I will put all the gasoline in my boat and go to the lake...

Diesel will go in the truck and car mixed with BioDiesel...

YOU DO HAVE extra fuel at your house don't YOU?

he craziest thing about the whole Katrina fiasco was
my father in law (technically he's just my
girlfriend's dad, but we've been together long enough
that this is what we call him). I always make fun of
him because he keeps his garage stocked with something
like 100 gallons of water, a bunch of big jugs full of
treated gasoline, food, etc. He also owns quite a few
guns. So I pick on him a lot for being borderline nuts
even though he's fairly normal.

So when Katrina rolled around I ended up evacuating
with them since the woman wanted to be with her
parents. It took us 35 hours of nonstop driving to
drive to Dallas. It's usually a four hour drive or so.
About twelve hours or so in you had to drive around a
car that had run out of fuel every fifty feet or less.
They were everywhere. It was hot, too, and we saw
hundreds of families standing on the side of the road
sweating. A lot had infants and little kids. Even if
you somehow did find a gas station thad wasn't sold
out of gasoline (probably 9/10 were sold out) the line
was literally miles long. About 20 hours in, or a
little over halfway to Dallas, we noticed the
convenient stores were being looted. The people busted
out the windows (we didn't see who, but they were
busted out) and we saw people coming out with any
drink they could find. It was pretty much chaos. There
was one cop on the scene and he wouldn't get out of
his car. He just sat across his street with his lights
swirling and people ignored him.

By this time there were so many cars broken down that
we spent a lot of our time driving off road. We had a
big tarp on the back of the truck with all the
gasoline but we were forced to fuel up in front of
people. We had enough fuel to fill up our two vehicles
three times which turned out to be just enough to get
us to Dallas. As we were fueling up crowds of
not-so-nice looking folks with empty gas tanks were
staring us down. We gave one guy five gallons of fuel
because he had two little kids. We were approached the
second time we fueled up on the side of the road by a
pissed-off bunch of people asking for gas. We told
them we needed it. They didn't care obviously. One
younger guy went towards the back of the truck and
said something like "I'm taking one, call the fucking
police if you want." and my father in law had to use
his pistol to convince the guy otherwise. We were then
standing there, funnel in the truck, me trying to pour
gas in, him with a pistol in his hand, my girlfriend
and her mom crying, and all of the gas-thief's buddies
looking real tough. He just stood there like some sort
of tough-guy asshole. I got the cap back on the jug
and we got out of there with our nerves really
frazzled. I kept my pistol loaded after that.

We went through a LOT of water. It was really pretty
fucking hot out there. I slept in little two or three
minute bursts when traffic was stopped which it almost
always was. Sit for a few minutes, move ten feet.
Repeat a thousand fucking times. My leg actually
cramped up from break/accelerate/breaking so many
times and I had to pull over. This happened to pretty
much all of us. It sounds melodramatic but driving
actually fucking hurt at that point. To save on fuel I
didn't run my air conditioner so I was also sweating
the whole time but we thankfully had a lot of water.

At close to 30 hours people got fed up with the
traffic and we started seeing cars zipping past us on
the southbound side of the freeway, heading north the
wrong way. There were still quite a few emergency
vehicles heading south so this was a dangerous idea.
It didn't take long until hundreds of people switched
to the other lane and headed northbound on it. A half
mile or so up we saw the first head on collision. A
family headed north had struck a police cruiser
heading south at the crest of a hill. They'd never
seen each other until the last second, I guess. We saw
a lot of these accidents. The swarm beat the police,
though, and we were out in nowhere, Texas anyway so
there probably weren't that many police to respond.
Eventually the entire southbound lane was just as
clogged as the northbound. Moreso, really, because
there were the head-on accidents. The police couldn't
go south or north now so it was a kind of weird
feeling of being on your own. So many people were
broken down now that you had to swerve not to just hit
the people who were out lingering. They had nowhere to
go. Our big tarp-covered pickup drew a lot of eyes,
too. We again had to fill up in front of hundreds of
people. He again had to use his pistol as a friendly
reminder that we didn't wish to be robbed. He never
actually pointed it at anybody, he just took it out
and held it as a reminder. People just stared at us
with hate. I can't blame them, I guess. But he was
watching out for his wife and daughter and I was
watching out for her as well. Most people would do the