In fact, I had an appointment for some girlfriend time with my dear friend, Daniell, who was going to give me a mani-pedi as an early birthday gift. I was even going to paint my nails blue!
Then Lora Leigh and I were planning on going to a movie on this expected-to-be rainy afternoon.
But Mother Nature is a bitch.
The morning had been a little bit of an adventure as a couple of friends had asked if they could park at my house for the Warrior Dash, a 5-K extreme race being held nearby. I had done a story on the event this week for the newspaper and knew several people planning on running the 3-mile course beset with man-made obstacles, and including a whole lot of mud. I offered because I figured the parking would be tricky because of the rain.
Several young, beautiful people in much better shape than I had left their cars in front of my house before heading off happy and laughing, determined to be warrior survivors of the 5K race.
I, however, planned on being darned good and lazy as it poured rain outside, and took my sweet time getting dressed.
So I was pretty much naked at about noon when the emergency siren went off, letting me and my fellow citizens of St. Charles Parish know that a tornado had been spotted in my area. I sent Lora downstairs quickly and hurried to put some clothes on.
Then all hell broke loose.
I was just checking the radar on my computer when the phone rang. It was a friend who was running the race and had parked a couple of cars at my house.
"We need help," he said.
They had managed to survive the race through the mud, through the woods, through the old tires, over the cargo nets and under the barbed wire, but nearly died when the tornado headed their way and dropped pea-sized hail on their heads, and arms, and legs. They had managed to find shelter at my daughter's school and were wondering if I could come pick them up.
"I'm on my way," I replied.
I was grabbing towels, garbage bags and an old sheet when there was a knock on my door. It was a friend of my stepdaughter, with two friends of his and they were wet, covered with mud and shivering. I grabbed more towels for them. Then left my daughter with them as I headed out.
And hit bumper-to-bumper traffic on my little street in my little town.
But I dashed past a few stalled cars and took a shortcut to my daughter's school.
And there I saw them. About 20 of the saddest, muddiest, messiest people you'd ever want to see, wearing costumes, facepaint, goofy-looking Viking hats and mud. Lots and lots of mud.
And I laughed hysterically. I couldn't help it. I couldn't even find the guy I know. Anybody could have gotten into my car at that point and I wouldn't have known who they were.
Talk about your huddled masses. They were shivering, scared shitless and ready to get the hell out of there.
And worried about getting my car dirty.
I finally convinced them that I'm a mom. My car hasn't been clean in 10 years.
And, with the heater on full blast, and the windows fogging up continually and feeling terribly sorry for the other lost souls walking up and down streets and drowning in the rain, I drove my friend and his friends to the parking area .
Um, the mud pit. It wasn't designed to be another obstacle course on the race, but it sure was by the time we got to it.
Hundreds of cars and trucks were parked -- and stuck -- in knee-deep mud with Sheriff's deputies and tow trucks trying to pull them out.
I dropped the boys off on the top of the levee so I would not succumb as well, then David and I headed off to pick up the girls back at the school
A few minutes later, I was driving through Norco with nine cold, wet, muddy and really, really smelly people stuffed into my Dodge Durango, trying to take the railroad tracks easy so as not to hurt them.
And a few minutes after that, I had 13 cold, wet, muddy and really, really smelly people in my living room, huddling around the heating vent and using up every towel in my house. Then they disbursed to every room in my house to change their clothes and clean up.
So glad I made the bed.
And a few minutes later I had 13 warmer, dryer but still kind of smelly people eating anything they could get their hands on in my kitchen.
And I didn't mind one bit.
And I didn't mind a bit when, one-by-one, they wrapped their smelly arms around me and thanked me for saving their lives on this day. I only wish I could have saved more. Or had more towels.
And my nail polish can damn well wait.
|Warrior Refugees and one muddy truck