Lake Norman & Mooresville

Louisiana showed class in the midst of calamity

My family and friends had been planning our trip Labor Day weekend for almost 6 months. However, we never considered that Hurricane Gustav would have the same destination that we had.

I spent most of last weekend in over 100-degree heat index watching my football team lose and then traveling in the car in front of an impending hurricane. But I still enjoyed my adventure in Louisiana.

Back in the spring, when we heard Appalachian State University was going to play Louisiana State University, we were thrilled. Since the son of good friends plays for ASU, we all decided to make a weekend of going to the game. LSU is in Baton Rouge, La., about an hour's drive from New Orleans.

The game was originally scheduled for Labor Day. Then, because of the TV schedule, it was switched and then switched again. The day before the game, the time was changed again because of Hurricane Gustav.

This time, the game was rescheduled from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. because of the hurricane. We found out about the change at 2 p.m. EST. With a 12-hour drive ahead of us and a hurricane also headed where we were going, we decided to drive all night and go to the game.

We got to LSU at about 8 a.m. local time. At that early hour, many students were already drunk. Since we had on ASU shirts, the students taunted, threatened and threw things at us as we tried to walk to the game.

However, the adults at the game, and all those we met in Louisiana, were delightful and very hospitable. We were given info about getting out of the area quickly, the back way to miss traffic, and wished a good trip home.

After the game, we checked into our hotel, along with people who were already evacuating New Orleans. We decided to leave Louisiana at 2 a.m. We had to be east of New Orleans before 4 a.m., as all traffic was to be routed west at that time. What should have taken an hour took us two hours because of traffic. We were one of the last cars allowed to travel east.

In fact, our drive took us 12 hours just to get through Louisiana and Mississippi. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper the whole way. Despite the terrible conditions, everyone was happy and polite. Whenever we needed to switch lanes to get off the highway, we merely signaled and the next car let us over.

I couldn't believe that these people who might be going back to a flooded home, or nothing at all, stayed positive. I never once saw a rude or even tired-looking person.

In fact, I think our group was the most exhausted people we saw, and we were just going home. We hadn't had to pack and stress and worry about what we'd come home to. The next day, on TV, we saw places where we had just visited. A bridge we had travelled over on Saturday was partially underwater.

What the news didn't show is the spirit of the people of Louisiana. People who could have panicked or been impolite treated the evacuation as a way to promote their culture. I'm thankful that I spent this weekend in Louisiana, and I'm thankful for this adventure. I'm also thankful that the people of New Orleans and Baton Rouge are able to handle experiences like this. I know I wouldn't be as classy as most of them were.