Rita EvacuationSo I underestimated how many people would be leaving last minute. So did many of my friends. It took my boyfriend and I 12.5 hours to drive to Austin (a drive that normally takes 2.5 hours). Ten of those hours were spent getting about 60 miles outside of Houston. Bumper to bumper traffic, no gas in sight, stranded vehicles everywhere. That was pretty much the story of the day yesterday.
Luckily I made it to Austin, though. Two of my friends were trying to drive north to Oklahoma. One ended up stranded and out of gas, and 22 hours later she is stuck in some small town north of Houston with nothing to do. Another one drove 21 hours only to make it to Huntsville, TX (normally a 1.5 hour drive). Her family has some money, and they are chartering a plane today at noon to get her out.
I'm astounded at what a bad job the local authorities are doing to help people get out. I realize there are a lot of people leaving all at once, but there were some noticeable problems.
Rather than running green constantly or the majority of the time, traffic lights out of Houston and into Austin ran at normal cycles, backing up traffic for dozens of miles and hundreds of cars. The freeway systems were supposed to have all lanes running out of town by 10am yesterday, but when I talked to my friend at 1am last night, the lanes into Houston were still completely empty. Add to that that the Houston officials asked people to use Hwy 290 out of town because they were going to make all lanes of the Hwy go north out of town. Several hours and hundreds of thousands of cars later, they changed their minds and left the cars mostly stranded.
Anyway, the good news now is that we are safe. I'm pretty sure my friends will be too. I hope the Houston roads get cleared soon. I'll update more as I can.