Cindy and Winston Walker were high and dry in Steamboat Springs during the weekend, but Cindy's 80-year-old parents were evacuating their home in New Orleans to flee Hurricane Katrina.
"When it was still a Category 3 storm, Cindy's parents were planning to go downtown and stay with friends in a fourth-story apartment," Winston Walker said. "But when they woke up at 5 a.m. (Sunday), they said, 'We're outta here!'"
The Walkers have enjoyed long teaching careers in the Steamboat Springs School District. He grew up in northern Louisiana near the Texas state line, in Shreveport. Her parents moved to New Orleans in 1967, when she was a freshman at Colorado College.
Cindy Walker's parents, Mim and Gene Brumbaugh, live in a suburban subdivision near the west bank of the Mississippi River, about 20 minutes from the Louisiana Superdome, where many people sought refuge from the storm beginning Sunday.
The Walkers were relieved to get a call from her parents Sunday night reporting that they had encountered manageable traffic on an eastern escape route to Florida. Ultimately, they checked into a Best Western motel near longtime family friends near Navarre, Fla., about 25 miles east of Pensacola.
Cindy Walker remembers summer 1969, when Hurricane Camille struck New Orleans. She was spending the summer at home from college when that Category 5 storm crashed ashore in about the same place Katrina struck this week.
"It was definitely scary," she recalled. "I remember being totally without power."
Winston Walker said he was very concerned about the potential for loss of human life in extreme southern Louisiana. But it wasn't Katrina's 140-mph winds that concerned him as much as the storm surge that had the potential to overwhelm levees built to keep water out in just such a circumstance.
There are a lot of fiercely independent people in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes (the equivalent of counties), Walker said.
"The thing that kills people isn't so much the wind," Walker said, "It's the storm surge. I'm worried that on that peninsula that sticks out into the ocean, there's going to be grave loss of life. There are a lot of stubborn Cajuns down there who will say, 'We've never evacuated before,' and they're going to be on their rooftops. I'm really worried about Gulfport and Biloxi, (Miss.), too.'"
Hurricane experts say the majority of hurricane-related deaths occur as people take chances in their eagerness to return to their homes and secure their properties.
By late Monday afternoon, Cindy Walker was unable to reach her parents by telephone in Florida, but she felt reassured about their safety.
As the storm heads north, the Brumbaughs are waiting to hear about the condition of their home.