From the Annals of Panic – In 2005, Houston and the surrounding area was gripped in the midst of the worst traffic jam in the City’s history. All freeways heading out of the City were turned into massive parking lots as residents fled from the oncoming Hurricane Rita. The storm coming quick on the heels of devastating Hurricane Katrina threw officials and residents into panic mode resulting in the largest peacetime evacuation in U.S. history. And it was mostly for naught – in Houston at least – as the storm veered eastward and came ashore south of Beaumont. Sadly, the mishandled flight from the City killed almost as many people as Rita did. More than 100 evacuees died in the exodus. Drivers waited in traffic for 20-plus hours, and heat stroke impaired or killed dozens while 24 senior citizens were killed in a bus fire. The evacuation exposed horrific flaws in the system and was largely mismanaged by the local governments as there was no effective plan to handle the amount of traffic generated by the call to evacuate.
I remember that storm very well. I wasn’t in Houston, but between Beaumont and Port Arthur. It was really bad. My mother left earlier than we did with her boss and it took them 23 hours to get from Beaumont to Dallas. Since then, the evacuation “rules” have changed so that contra lanes are used for evacuation, too.
Red wonders if they have really worked out the kinks in the system. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell until another really big scary one is bearing down on the Texas coast. Ike told us nothing because almost everyone stayed in place.