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Re: gardenchat DIGEST V1 #1570

There have been evacuation routes set in place for years and years.  I  live 
just off Hwy 6 South which is one of the evacuation routes from the south  to 
points NW and West.  There are permanent signs posted all along the  highway 
indicating it as such that have been here since before I moved  here.  
I don't think the topography had as much to do with it as the construction  
on the freeways.  Our Governor is in overdrive when it comes to  
construction...but that is another story.  Traffic in the city of Houston  is always 
bad....even when it is not rush hour.  When we first moved to  Houston....drove from 
Calif. to Houston, it took us longer to get from the  outskirts of Houston to 
the center (just on I-10) than it did from San  Antonio.  We finally gave up 
and got a hotel room till the next  morning.  This was in 1988.  Right now most 
of I-10 is shut down in  parts, sometimes completely, as they are expanding 
it from a 8 lane freeway to  12.  Also going west on I-10 to San Antonio there 
are sections where it is  down to one lane (around Columbus for instance) due 
to construction.  From  what I hear there are several locations such as this 
going north as well on I-45  to Dallas.   
When one considers that 2.5 million people were in the area with mandatory  
evacuation, which didn't include the actual city of Houston, only the cities  
south (Galveston, Kemah, Clear Lake, etc.) And then add the 5 million plus  
people that live in the city of Houston, and then all those in neighboring areas  
outside of Houston (such as mine)  that were under voluntary  
evacuation....put them all in one or multiple vehicles.....all heading north or  
west.....it's no wonder there was congestion.  No doubt there would be  conjestion in the 
city, since there always is.  We live on the southwest  side a little over 20 
miles from downtown Houston....I always calculate a  good 45 minutes to an 
hour to get to downtown......no matter what time of  day.  Wed. morning it took 
my DH almost 3 hours to get downtown.   Everyone familiar with Houston expected 
traffic inside Houston, I think it  was outside Houston where the surprise 
came.  There was literally a traffic  jam from here to inside San Antonio which 
is a 200 mile stretch.  I heard  similar or worse situations going north.
To top it off, the mayor of Houston asked days in advance for Tx.DoT   to 
open the contra lanes for the evacuation, but for whatever reason Tx.  DoT didn't 
comply until Friday.  Also, assistance was requested as soon as  they saw 
that the lack of gasoline and water on the roadways was a  problem.  The city of 
Houston was told that the National Guard was on their  way with tankers full 
of gasoline and trucks full of water.  Nobody told  anyone though, that the 
National Guard had to report from Louisiana to Austin  first for their orders and 
then go back.  I saw it on TV as the convoys of  Nat. Guard troops were stuck 
in traffic.  The cheers in the studios that  finally help was coming....and 
then the utter shock when they didn't give any  assistance.  The newsreporters 
went up to the trucks and asked them why  they weren't helping....they were 
told to report to Austin first, since that was  the FEMA and Nat. Guard staging 
area for Hurricane Rita.....they were to get out  of harms way first, then go 
back to help after the storm.  
My heart goes out to all those that were stuck in traffic.  I dont'  think I 
could have handled it, although I've spoken to many that said they were  
unbelievably calm at the time.....not sure if it was the heat, being used to  
standing in Houston traffic, or the determination to get out of harms  way.  I 
supposed one would have to go through the experience to know,  doesn't take much 
imagination to know that it would not be pleasant to be at a  stand still in 
100+ degree heat for hours and hours....and all the poor animals  too.  
There were a lot of things that went wrong.  I think everyone learned  from 
this experience, as they did from the Hurricane Katrina.  Many cities,  
including Los Angeles reported that they didn't even have an evacuation plan,  much 
less a plan for how to evacuate that many people.  
I think any large city would have been in the same boat if they  had to 
evacuate that many.  We were all fortunate that Rita was not as  devastating as it 
could have been.....and hopefully we can all learn from it for  the next time, 
when it might just be a worse situation.  Heaven  forbid.
zone 9
Texas Gulf Coast 

In a message dated 10/4/2005 1:54:40 PM Central Standard Time,  
gardenchat-owner@hort.net writes:

Am not  familiar with the Houston area, but I did read that ordering a  
total  evacuation and not taking into account the topography was part  
of  the problem. There were sections of the city that were at little   
risk due to location and elevation, but they were told to go along   
with those at higher risk. I also read that people concerned about   
belongings and pets (most understandably) evacuated in multiple   
vehicles, so the congestion on the roads exceeded estimates. When I   
lived in Hawai'i, the phone books had tsunami evacuation maps - when   
there was a warning, you could tell exactly whether you should head   
inland or not. While hurricanes are unpredictable, they are less so   
than tornados, so I imagine similar maps could be developed for   
hurricanes, based on location, elevation, and proximity to bodies of   
water. But politicians overreact because people want  guarantees.

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