Here is what my Aunt Clara sent me via e-mail. She gave me permission to reprint it here. She left Louisiana during Hurricane Ike for an impromptu visit to her sisters in Georgia. This is what she saw on the way back home.
On my way North, I began to see the first convoys. They were military groups moving into the stricken areas that I was heading away from. They would be the first help on the ground after Hurricane Ike. I saw them going South in every State I traveled through: LA, AL, MS, and GA.
Then after the storm, as I headed back home, I began seeing the convoys outside of Montgomery. These folks were moving South-- away from their comfortable homes, this time. The convoys included high and mighty utility trucks; tree cutters with their buckets at the ready; big Salvation Army vans; and Wildlife/Fisheries personnel with their boats in tow and blue lights flashing. They were in groups at the gas stations, in the rest areas, and alongside the roadways. As I got near the I-10 corridor, they were lined up in the right lane steadily making their way to the West, most traveling just a bit slower than the freeway traffic, but certainly on the move. Nearing Baton Rouge there were at least 2 deployments cutting trees and moving debris right along the highway shoulders (deployed only days earlier from Gustav's wake, no doubt).
But the intensity and traffic swelled as we all made our way across the two-lane Atchafalaya Basin bridge. Things began to slow as skies opened to a heavy rain, all in the last hour of the trip. Nearly my last stop after 12 hours of driving (Crowley exit 80) I experienced (for the first time in my memory), bumper to bumper, big city traffic (it felt like Los Angeles). Then, near Rayne, as I looked up ahead to a slight bend in the freeway, as far as the eye could see, maybe a mile or more, a convoy of slow moving vehicles with their little yellow lights blinking through my windshield wipers...all headed for the coastlines of West Louisiana and Texas.
The part that made me cry there on the highway, apart from my weariness and feeling the nearness of home, was that I had kept a list in the car. See, on the back of a used three by five card with my Philippians 4 Scripture verse on it, was my little list of abbreviations. Those condensed letters helped me to keep a record of all the States that were associated with these convoys. As the list grew and grew, I became overwhelmed with emotion. On the truck doors and license plates, I saw the states of Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and others from really far away impacted me even more----Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I am sure there were many more states represented from the West and North of Texas, and maybe some from these very states. And yes, I know these workers and companies will be paid...but to see the joint effort...oh my, I was truly moved. I'd never seen such a monumental effort on behalf of people in need. People in close proximity to the community where I was raised.
It made me proud to be an American, and happier than ever to be "home" in Crowley.