What It Was Like Evacuating New Orleans This Time

slate.com
6 min read
fairly easy
I've long relied on the hurricane evacuation adage "Cat 1 or 2, see it through; Cat 3 or more, hit the door."
My best friend Sarah Ravits, a fellow journalist, is an excellent writer, but if she gets any negative feedback from her editors, it's that she tries to fit too much into her ledes. Sometimes, though, there's no other way to introduce a story. Take this paragraph, which she wrote and filed from my in-laws' dining room table in New Orleans last Sunday night, where we were relying on a generator and a hotspot as 100 mph winds howled overhead: "On the already-traumatic 16th anniversary of Katrina, Greater New Orleans is experiencing a parish-wide power outage in Orleans, a boil water advisory in Jefferson, ferries that free-floated down the Mississippi River unmanned after becoming detached from their ports, flash flood warnings, and tornado watches — all against the backdrop of a fourth surge of COVID-19 in a poorly vaccinated state where a hospital roof just blew off due to fierce winds." It's wordy, for sure, but it conveys the chaos of the situation so well.

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My life in the past four months has felt very much like that lede: a whole bunch of trauma and stress jampacked into a very short space. I've gone (very!) public about my rape, endured the sudden death of my beloved mother five days before Mother's Day, ended up in the ER with a ruptured ovarian cyst, been rear-ended twice, overseen the care of my 83-year-old father with mild dementia, gotten both of my daughters enrolled in new schools, and tried to manage my own job at a high school in the midst of the worst COVID numbers we've ever seen in Louisiana. It's been a lot.

So even though I've long relied on the hurricane evacuation adage of, "Cat 1 or 2, see it through; Cat 3 or more, hit the door," I just couldn't bring myself to evacuate when Hurricane Ida formed so quickly that our only options were to ride the storm out or endure massive traffic jams that could require us to be on the interstate for almost a full day. (Sarah ended up hunkered down…
Eve Crawford Peyton
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