SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – As people evacuated from the Gulf Coast states, one Sioux Falls couple found themselves caught up in the middle of it all. Brad and Lori Olson were in New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina headed straight for the city. What was intended to be a relaxing vacation turned out to be a very stressful experience. But when the Olsons found out Katrina was headed their way, they did whatever it took to get out of town.
"I surprised her with a birthday trip to New Orleans, and we didn't plan on another surprise but we got one anyway," Brad said. "For a day and a half, we had a great time," Lori said. But then Hurricane Katrina quickly began to gain strength off the Gulf Coast.
Getting home to Sioux Falls in the middle of an evacuation proved to be difficult. Airlines cancelled flights because of the storm, and rental cars were sold out. "We wanted to get out of this and get back to our girls," Lori said.
"At that point I went down to the concierge desk to see what other options we had available to us and there was a person ahead of us, Marty Kogan," said Brad. Kogan and his family had already arranged for a limousine company to take them to Chicago and they invited the Olsons to ride along. "We both plopped in the back seat and I was relieved," said Lori.
They waited in bumper-to-bumper traffic to leave New Orleans. The group only stopped once for gas and a quick nap. Twenty-one hours and $3,700 later, both families were in Chicago. The Olsons then took a flight from Chicago to Sioux Falls. "This is just a hiatus from our trip, we're going back again, and we're taking the chauffeur out to supper," Lori said.
The limousine company actually sent a large SUV with a driver for the trip. The two families split the charge, but they say it was definitely worth it.