My Living Hurricane Nightmare
Living in a coastal city, all us mommas have to prepare for Hurricane Season. We all joke that we need to get all our hurricane snacks for a “hurricane party,” batteries, and important paperwork in waterproof containers or sheets. It’s a checklist that we hate to check every year but is necessary. Your family discusses evacuation plans and what is the highest level of storm you would “ride it out” at home. My family has done that since I was a kid. Growing up in Miami, we had roughly 3 named storms a year. It was drilled into my head to have a plan. When I got a family of my own, my husband and I developed our own answers for our hurricane checklist. What we failed to add to that checklist was, “What do we do if we are not in town with our child when a storm hits but she is?” Yep, you read that correctly. Hurricane Ida was coming, and we were not with our daughter. Just by reading that statement, I hope your heart starts to race a bit so you understand my fear and anxiety before getting the rest of my nightmare.
Wednesday August 26, 2021
My husband and I were getting the final preparations for our first childless vacation. We were heading to Las Vegas for a wedding that my husband was going to be a groomsman in. We were excited; I planned to sleep in everyday. We had tickets to Bruno Mars; the wedding was gonna be amazing. The news reported there was a tropical depression but didn’t expect it to become anything major. Maybe a tropical storm but, again, nothing big. My parents were going to watch our daughter, our dogs, and house sit for us while we were gone. I bought all of my daughters favorite snacks and got dog food. This was the “prep” I did. We were set … or so I thought.
Thursday August 27, 2021
Hubby and I got the early flight to Vegas. We were tired but again, excited. We FaceTimed our daughter and told her to behave for Abu and Papa. We told her Mommy and Daddy were at a wedding. We checked into our hotel to turn on the news to see that the tropical depression was now expected to become a hurricane. We were shocked but the news said it wouldn’t be more than a Category 2 storm. We called my folks and made a game plan. They were going to take my daughter to school on Friday and then prepare our house for the storm. They would bring in all the outside things and set up our hurricane shutters. They would then pick up our daughter and evacuate to the Northshore to their home in Madisonville. My parents grew up in Miami so they know how to pack up for a storm. I was sick to my stomach, but if anyone could prep for a hurricane, it’s my parents. Miami taught us well. We had a plan. Since the storm was expected to hit on Monday, I moved our flights to the 6am flight on Sunday out of Vegas instead of our later flight.
Friday August 28, 2021
We woke up to see the news had once again changed. The storm would be a Category 4 or 5. I fell to the floor. I was shocked. What happened to the “just a tropical depression?” I called my mom and panicked. She did what all amazing mommas do. She calmed me down, and she reassured me that it would all be ok. We had to decide if we would try to get back before the storm or just stay an extra day in Vegas. My husband and I agreed to come back Saturday. We would miss the wedding reception but would make the early ceremony. We needed to get home. We made all the preparations to leave straight to the airport after the ceremony. We got to dinner when I got the text and phone call that all incoming flights to New Orleans for Saturday were canceled because the timeline for the storm was now Sunday early. I began to shake. My heart began to race. This couldn’t be happening. It hit like a freight train. There was a possible category 5 storm about to hit my city with my folks and daughter, and I would not make it back to them. I never thought that was even a possibility. What the hell had happened? I lost it. I went into total freak out panic mode at a fancy restaurant in Las Vegas. I must have looked like a total nutcase. I kept saying, “this can’t be happening.” As I called every airline, checked every airline website, it hit me. There was no chance. I looked at flying into Dallas or Houston and somehow getting back. My husband reminded me that it would be ok, but we wouldn’t make it back in time no matter what we did.
My amazing sister in law offered for us to stay with them in Dallas until we figured out a game plan. I called my mom crying and told her the plan. She and my dad reassured me that they and Victoria would be ok. They’ve been through storms before. They reminded me that we had lived through Category 4 Hurricane Andrew in Miami in 1992. No water and no power for a whole month. They said that they would survive this and hoped I would be back soon after the storm.
Saturday August 28, 2021
I FaceTimed with my folks and Victoria a dozen times that Saturday. For my mental sanity, I needed to make sure they were ok and prepared. I kept reassuring Victoria that a bad storm was coming but that she would be ok, that Abu and Papa would help her. I would say it to her but honestly, I was also saying it to myself. I knew how awesome my parents were. I knew that there was no one more prepared to care for her. I told her I loved her. At the wedding, I tried to enjoy myself, but I texted almost every hour.
Sunday August 29, 2021
My husband and I flew to Dallas Sunday morning. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were so amazing. They picked us up at the airport, and they were so sweet that they tried to distract us. We did have fun with them. I was texting my folks and FaceTiming throughout the day. Our plan was to rent a car to drive to Shreveport, my husband’s childhood hometown. From Shreveport, we would drive to Baton Rouge with my father-in-law. He is a doctor and needed to report to Baton Rouge so we would ride with him until we could get into the city. At 10 pm, my dad texted me that they were all ok. Some rain and wind, they had already lost power and the generator kicked in.
Monday August 30, 2021
The drive from Dallas to Shreveport was the longest 3 hours of my life. I called and texted my folks all morning. No response. Did the storm get worse? Were they ok? Was their house ok? What happened? No response. From the new articles, live news feeds, and Facebook group, I learned the storm was devastating. The cell towers were out. I knew nothing. I texted friends who lived near my folks. They kept reassuring me that Madisonville didn’t get hit hard. I cried. I was shaking. My husband was nervous but kept trying to calm me. These were some of the hardest 3 hours of my life. As we pulled into Shreveport to return the car, my mom FaceTimed me. I cried; I sobbed like a baby. She said they just got the internet back and had no cell service but they were fine. The drive to Baton Rouge was a relief. I was getting closer to my daughter. My loving in-laws had bought tons of groceries and essentials for us to take back to South Louisiana. We had heard the devastation that we were driving back to.
Tuesday August 31, 2021
My sweet father-in-law drove my husband and I back to Madisonville. As we got closer and closer, we saw the destruction Hurricane Ida had left in South Louisiana. When I pulled into the driveway, I leapt out of the car and ran right into my daughters arms. The nightmare was over. We were all reunited. I cannot thank my parents enough. I am eternally thankful to them for preparing my house and caring for my daughter and dogs during the terrible storm.
So Mommas, hold your babies tight. My best advice is to add an extra point to your hurricane checklist to figure out what to do if you are not with your child when a storm hits.