I just got off the phone with my friend’s mom in New Orleans.
We’ve never met in person, but she knows me. I’ve fixed her computer by remote control. She’s seen me on TV while visiting her daughter in Connecticut. I’ve known her son for over 25 years and he’s a trusted friend.
She understands I’m looking out for her.
“Leave,” I said. “Leave now.”
This morning’s Times-Picayune showed the path well to the east of New Orleans. That’s changed.
The latest from the Hurricane Center, and all my other normally reliable sources say, Hurricane Katrina is major trouble. She has the potential to be as devastating as any hurricane in my lifetime.
Over the phone my friend’s mom has always sounded younger than her chronological age. Speaking to her now, her real age showed.
Driving long distances are very tiring to her. She didn’t know where there would be shelters to accommodate her. She wasn’t quite sure where ‘north’ was, when I said to drive north past Lake Ponchartrain as far as she could go.
As much as she fears leaving the house, she needs to fear staying even more. Riding out a hurricane is something people only do once. Once is enough to make them realize they never want to do it again.
And, as has been said by me and others, New Orleans is a special case. It is incredibly susceptible to flooding. It floods regularly from heavy rain. Flooding from the direct hit of a Category 4 storm would be of historic proportions.
I wish I could run down and toss her over my shoulder, carrying her to safety. It’s not that easy. There’s no access. She’s alone. She’s probably coming to the realization that there’s something to fear.
As I hung up the phone, I said, “Next week when we speak, I want you to complain that I made you leave your home… and for what? I want to be wrong about Hurricane Katrina.”
I’m scared I won’t be.