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THE WINDS OF CHANGE



The evacuation was one of the most horrible experiences of my adult life. About five-hundred thousand to one million automobiles, trucks, boats, motor homes and campers were all in a line on every street, road and highway. Each vehicle headed west out of harms way.

There were 178-mile-per-hour winds of death blowing at our backs, looking to suck up and destroy everything we Americans have worked so hard to accomplish, not to mention all that we hold dear to our hearts.

We traveled down Highway 82 from Brunswick, Georgia to Waycross at a high rate of speed - reaching almost six miles per hour at times. It was my wife, son, daughter-in-law, two friends, six dogs and three cats all packed into three small automobiles. None of us realized that an even bigger, faster, larger wind lay before us only an hour or two down the road. I do not think we ever traveled more than six miles per hour, nor did we ever move forward move than 500 feet without having to stop. It was nerve racking and pushed your patience to the limit.

I reached over and turned on the C.B. radio to see if there was an accident ahead. Suddenly, I noticed a woman and her friend stranded along the side of the road, their hood raised and their vehicle overheating. People were jumping from their cars and dropping off gallons of their own drinking water for the woman. As we passed, we gave her another gallon of water. She was pouring water into her radiator when it spewed back into her face scalding her on the side of the head. Immediately, three or four passengers jumped from their slow moving cars to rush to her assistance, offering her towels and several men started pouring water into her radiator.

Another mile or so down the road, a trucker came on the radio asking if anyone could tell him where he could stop and get a Mountain Dew. He had nothing to drink as all the stores were out of beverages when he stopped. Now everything was closed and boarded up. A voice responded and asked him his location. He replied that he was passing mile marker 19. The voice came back on several minutes later and told him to look on signpost 21 when he drove by it. Suddenly, horns started blowing, which were heard for miles. When we passed marker 21, we spotted the cold, refreshing Mountain Dew on top of the marker.

People, who would ordinarily be pushed to their limits, were jumping from their vehicles trying to help anyone and everyone they could. When we finally arrived in Waycross nine hours later, a drive that would ordinarily have taken us about 35 minutes, we had nowhere to go. All the motels for three states were full, so we slept in the automobiles with the animals. This was a night of licking, scratching and stink that I never want to do again. It was also one of the worst night’s rests I have ever encountered, but we made the best of it.

The next morning, we rose at about six o'clock and stood around with hundreds, if not thousands of other people that were also stranded. It was cold, cloudy and the wind was blowing at about 45 miles per hour. Then along came the local electric company asking us if we needed any help finding a local shelter. We could not go to a shelter, because we had animals that we were not about to leave, even if it meant warmth and hot food. About an hour later, the animal control people came around asking everyone if they needed dog or cat food; it was free for the animals.

There were no restaurants open for 50 miles so there was no hot food. We could not find any type of bread as all the stores were sold out of everything, including water. We just ate what we could and made the best of it. Several hours later, a black woman drove up and stopped; we were huddled around our vehicles to stay out of the cold wind.

She said, "You do not know me from Adam, but I would like to invite you to my home to take a hot shower and clean up if you wish.”

As we traveled to her home, she talked about her new Web TV unit and how proud she was of it. After taking a bath, my son and I, being somewhat Web TV and computer wizards, left her house that day with her unit packed with search engines, folders, web sites and as much stuff as we could get into her system. Not to mention signing her up as a new Heartwarmers4u customer.

When the authorities gave the all clear, we headed back to Brunswick, Georgia to our warm, sweet, and wonderful home. Yes, it was a bad and dangerous experience and one that I never wish to repeat. But the strong winds that were ahead of us yesterday were the winds of kindness, friendship, courtesy and love. Not even the dangerous winds of this deadly hurricane could ever change the wind that makes the people of this country so great and wonderful.

AMERICA, I am so proud of you.



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