“I wouldn’t look to your right if I were you,” came out of his mouth but I couldn’t hear what he said. The dull roar of the van had made me tone deaf. I leaned over for him to repeat what he said. “Don’t look to your right.” I stared at him confused. And so, in human nature, I turned and looked over my shoulder as a semi sped by just to our right. The only problem was we were in the right lane on a 4-lane highway. He laid his head on the steering wheel and took a deep breath, his shoulders falling in exhaustion. How did we get here, stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for 6 hours, creeping inches along with everyone else? It started at 3:30 in the morning.
Irma was already sending wind and surf into the Miami area. There were videos to prove it, and the recent pictures on the Caribbean hit a nerve with thousands of scared people who were on the move.
It was way too early to be awake, but the adrenaline was pumping. We were going to beat the traffic in Orlando, and we had gas for the trip. There were too many lines at the pumps the night before to not know that we were blessed to be able to fill up with no problem. Patrick made a friend, typical, at the pump who was on his way into work. He drove the hour into Orlando every morning, and Patrick was definitely impressed. The traffic was horrible the evening before, and we knew that it would be worse.
The radio announced the immediate evacuation of the Miami Dade area and the governor himself told his citizens that tap water was still safe to drink and to start filling plastic containers. “Do not risk your life for bottled water. Make your own, now.”
Orlando had normal heavy traffic. I say “normal” because on the Northern side of the city we came to a standstill. When we stopped at the first rest area, there was no parking left, and people were parking on the shoulder on the exit ramp and any empty grass available. Vehicles were waiting for tow trucks because they had pulled too far into the marshy lawn. It was a quick stop. The chaos was uncomfortable, and we knew we had a long journey ahead.
The stop and go traffic continued, and Patrick swore he would not be back unless he was supplied with a driver. As we crossed the Georgia state line, we thought we were on our way.
Because of the size of Irma, the Georgia Governor has placed a mandatory evacuation of the outlying islands of Georgia.
We decided to stop for lunch when we got gas. Patrick was on the lookout for a Waffle House. Anything that lifted his spirits was game. We found a Waffle House with a wonderful staff. They bent over hand and foot to make sure we had everything we needed. We were headed the gas station after our meal, and the gas was $2.59 a gallon across the way (not bad at all). After our meal, we emerged to see the price had risen to $2.69. I guess gas should have been first.
We were headed to the South Carolina line and smoother sailing.
Irma is on its way, and the South Carolina Governor has announced mandatory evacuations of the Outlying Islands and the Low Country.
And so, we sit in traffic, very slow traffic with no end in sight. Another rest stop and another merge into traffic when no one wants to give up their spot on the cursed I-95. A nice tractor trailer driver let us in, and we started to move almost at a steady 50 miles per hour when suddenly everyone slammed on their brakes.
And here we are, sitting on I-95, thanking God for watching out for us and keeping the semi-driver alert, and hoping that when we hit North Carolina, some sanity will exist.
All photos on the website are taken by Tammera Cooper and remain her property.