RICHIE STEVENS SURVIVES HURRICANE KATRINA, WILL RACE AT U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 2, 2005) - New Orleans native Richie Stevens Jr., driver of the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock for Don Schumacher Racing, personally ...
RICHIE STEVENS SURVIVES HURRICANE KATRINA, WILL RACE AT U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 2, 2005) - New Orleans native Richie Stevens Jr., driver of the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock for Don Schumacher Racing, personally survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and will drive in this weekend's U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Unfortunately, he can't say the same for his home and his family business, Stevens Collision Center, but he's grateful that his dad Richie Sr., his mom JoAnn and his sister Brittney also survived the storm. His family remained in New Orleans to survey the damage to their home and business and do what is necessary to recover from the destruction.
Stevens escaped the direct wrath of the storm by leaving New Orleans with four friends in three cars on Sunday as the storm approached, but then endured Katrina as she changed direction and followed his path.
"The storm ended up coming right where we were. The eye of the storm ended up passing right over Hattiesburg, Miss." he said. "Luckily we were in a well-built hotel. The hotel that was right next to us got torn down to nothing. We lost power, we lost water Sunday night, and stayed there until Wednesday. We didn't have a choice, we couldn't really leave.
"The problem was I had used up all the fuel getting there. When it came time to leave, I couldn't leave because I didn't have any gas in our car. We had three cars between the five of us. One of the cars had about a half a tank of gas. Five of us piled into one car.
"I knew I had to be in Indy, I knew I had to race this weekend. And, I knew I wouldn't be able to catch a flight from anywhere. We started driving yesterday morning and drove until sundown. We stayed the night in Jackson, Tenn.
"My house is gone. The area that I live in is right where the storm initially hit. They said my house has anywhere from 10 to 15 feet of water in it. I'm assuming that it is pretty much destroyed.
"No word yet on the family business. My dad has not gotten any direct word about it. Areas close to there don't look good, but we don't know.
"It's probably not going to really hit me until I go back home and see what's gone. I just got my house a year ago. I've probably lost all my personal stuff, clothes, pictures, yearbooks, everything like that. If word is right about the 10 to 15 feet of water, then what I have with me is probably all I have."
For a detailed version of Stevens' ordeal, go to his blog on nhra.com.