Mom, Emmeline, and I are in Atlanta. We left this morning, scared to death we’d end up in an hours-long traffic jam of evacuees. We seem to have beaten the mad rush out of town, though. Kenny promises he’ll come tomorrow if things continue to look bad. And things are continuing to look bad. I can’t believe this is happening. As of yesterday morning, Katrina was a Category 1 storm that was supposed to loop around and head back into Florida. And then I turned on the news late last night to discover that Katrina had become a Category 5 storm and was heading for us.

It’s not supposed to happen this quickly. We usually have a few days to watch the storm as it spins around in the Gulf, waiting to see which area it will set its sights on. This one came out of nowhere. I didn't even pack up all of the sentimental stuff I usually take with me. I just grabbed a suitcase, threw a few clothes in it for me and E, and took off to Bay St. Louis to travel on from there with Mom. I left our house this morning and wondered, as you always do in these situations, will I be coming back?

Evacuating for a hurricane is surreal. It’s kind of like trying to face the incontrovertible fact of your own death. You know rationally that everyone dies, but there’s always a part of you that’s surprised to know that it really will happen to you. When you leave, you know there’s a chance that everything you own will be destroyed, but you don’t really believe it. You take two or three days worth of clothes, as you feel certain you’ll be back in that amount of time, and then go on with life as normal. Maybe this will still turn out that way. But I have a feeling, as I sit here looking at that monster on television, that this time is going to be different.

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