Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Raid - Part 2 Insertion


The pickup went according to plan and we got to Jackson without incident. We had dinner with friends and turned in early. We planned to leave Jackson at 5:00 AM, which was about first light. We had no idea how long it would take or what conditions we would encounter. I was very concerned that we would have enough gas to get back to Jackson that evening. We had only a little idea of how much gas the Tahoe used or how big the tank was.

The trip down I-55 was uneventful. One thing we noticed was the number of military and relief vehicles on the highway, there were a lot of them. It was really quite a sight to see convoys of military vehicles, convoys of utility trucks, loads of equipment all heading to our assistance. I really felt like the whole country was coming to help. We stopped at every gas station that looked open and kept a list. Each time we topped off we increased the likelihood we would make it back to Jackson. Our last stop was in Hammond. When we topped off in Hammond we knew for sure we would be OK.

Just south of Hammond, in Ponchatola I-55 was closed except to relief traffic, we were directed on to US 51. There was little traffic on either road and it moved pretty quickly. I wish Middendorf's had been open, I could have used some good fired seafood.

When we reached Laplace we decided to try Airline Highway, which was just opened for Jefferson Residents, since He was a Jefferson resident we though we could get through. We were waved through, they were more concerned about traffic that looters.

We first went to his house. Although some of his in-laws had stayed behind and they had visited his house and reported it was OK (they even cleaned out the refrigerator). He still wanted to see it and pick up a few things for his kids. We thought that was the least we could do. Anyway his house was sort of on the route we wanted to take anyway and offered an opportunity to regroup. We needed a lot of regrouping.

His house is located close to River Road above Oschener Clinic. We thought River Road was our best option for entering Orleans Parish. We had no idea what security we would encounter and unlike later trips we had no passes. We headed out, She was driving.

Just as we turned on to River Road a small convoy of vehicles with an NOPD car, blue lights flashing, in the lead roared past. I yelled "Follow those cars". She did. As our little adopted convoy sped down River Road She did her best to keep up.

Soon we were approaching the rail road tracks at the parish line. There was a military guard with a Humvee and M-16s. They waved us all though. The silver Tahoe had performed its magic for the first time. We were in. Our next objective was the CBD.

We tried to go down St. Charles. It was blocked by heavy equipment clearing trees. We switched to Magazine Street in Audubon Park. The park had taken over by the military, and the streets were partially blocked. We eventually got through to Magazine Street and followed it almost Napoleon Ave. We turned off Magazine because there were too many police cars the Second District Station. We did not want to be stopped and questioned. We switched to Laurel Street. We got around the police station but the smaller streets were still obstructed. There were downed wires and trees everywhere. We decided to get back on to a major street.

We went back to Magazine and fell into another column of Police vehicles. These were from a small town in Louisiana and I appreciate their help. They were racing around in a column, obviously lost. We followed them at high speed down one way streets the wrong way and had to retrace our steps. Eventually we ended up on Annunciation Street near the old Schwegmans and dropped off their column.

We headed toward the CBD on our own.

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