Tonight we are huddled around the TV in my brother's home in Florence, Alabama, watching the reports as Hurricane Katrina hurtles toward New Orleans. We are a few hundred miles away, but already the skies are totally dark, the wind has picked up, and the first line of showers from the outermost band of rain from the hurricane has passed through NW Alabama. We have family in Biloxi, Meridian, Jackson, Oxford, Lambert and Tupelo, Mississippi, all areas that lie directly in the path of the storm in the next 24 hours. So we watch and wait and switch from channel to channel, comparing notes and hoping that Susan and Tom and Dave and Lynn and Olivia and Mary and Robert and Mimi and Alan and Russ and Ruby and the rest of our family will be safe. Tonight things are fine but tomorrow will be a rough day in this part of the country. I noticed that during the church service this morning, one of the pastors announced that if the power goes out because of the hurricane, people were welcome to come to the church for safety and basic needs. I've never heard an announcement like that before. Meanwhile we're leaving early tomorrow morning to drive back to Chicago. We will be driving through rain and high winds for the first few hours. Andy just told me he's going to watch a few more minutes of "Hurricane TV" before he goes to bed, so I'm going to join him. We're watching Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel. Someone called and said they saw him in Biloxi several hours ago. He's one of those guys that, when you see him in your town, you know it's time to leave. So we watch and wait and tomorrow we're heading for home.
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