GRAND BAY, Ala. (AP) — Some Gulf Coast residents were getting out of town as Isaac approached, while others decided to hunker down and ride out the storm. A Mississippi resident was heading to her father’s Alabama home. Twin sisters from Holland planned to ride out the storm in the French Quarter while looking for something to do and a woman fled New Orleans with her husband, two kids and pets. Here are their stories.
At a rest stop along Interstate 10 in Alabama, Bonnie Schertler, 54, of Waveland, Miss., was evacuating Tuesday to her father’s house in Red Level, Ala., about three-and-a-half hours away. Schertler was traveling with her dog, Custer, and cat, Bennie. She said she decided to evacuate because forecasters were saying the storm could get stronger and could stall and pound the coast for an extended period of time.
“I left because of the ‘coulds,’” said Schertler, whose former home in Waveland was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
It was six months before power was back on in the area then. Schertler rebuilt, but she decided it was better to leave her home during this storm.
“I just feel like the storm may stay for a few days and that wind might just pound, and pound, and pound, and pound,” she said.
In the eerily quiet French Quarter in New Orleans, 34-year-old twin sisters from Holland wandered the streets looking for people to talk to and something to do.
Meernda and Corena Cecsl flew to Houston on Saturday, planning to drive to New Orleans for 14 days of music, crowds and fun. Instead, they arrived to news of a tropical storm that later became a hurricane.
“We thought, maybe it’s not as big as Katrina. And I thought about the kids. I’m a social worker, so I thought, ‘What can I do to help if people need help,’” Meernda Cecsl said.
They hunkered down in their hotel with two other guests and one staffer. The hotel had no food and no service so they stocked up on canned goods, bread, fruit and water, and bought candles and lighters. Their plan Tuesday was to be wander the streets looking for people to talk to and things to do, then get back in the hotel by 1 p.m. and ride out the night. Games and books would get them through.
“If it’s coming, it’s coming. What can you do?” Meernda Cecsl said, vowing not to let it get her down or ruin the trip. “You have to just take the spirit with you.”
Julie Gilyot, who evacuated from New Orleans with her husband, her two kids, a dog and a cockatiel, said she had been struggling to find a hotel that could accommodate her pets. She said she also had to leave her home for Hurricane Katrina.
“We evacuated this time simply because of the potential loss of power,” she said. “Not so much for the flooding, because where I live it doesn’t flood exactly.”
She didn’t know how long they would have to stay away this time. During Katrina, she said, they packed up some clothing and expected to be away for a few weeks. They were gone for six months.
Despite the fact that the anniversary of Katrina was expected to coincide with with Isaac’s landfall, Gilyot said she wasn’t too worried about the storm.
“When you live in New Orleans, then you’ve been through it multiple times,” she said. “You pretty much have a handle on things. It’s very draining, but you know, you kind of get a comfort zone.”
Associated Press writers Sheila Kumar in Baton Rouge, La., and Vicki Smith in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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