The news story of Hurricane Rita is the traffic. The highways out of Houston are backed up for 100 miles. People are still stuck on the highway hours after they left their homes. Some of these people left their homes yesterday evening around 6 p.m. Panic about what may or may not happen and pictures of Hurricane Katrina's damage caused many in the Houston area to leave their homes even though they may not experience flooding there. Wind damage is going to occur. But not every area is going to flood.
People have literally been in the car for 12 hours and never made it out of town. Houston's highways are concentric circles of one level of hell or another. But nothing like the hell of running out of gas, overheating engines and of course a different sort of road rage. People are falling ill in the 100 degree heat. There are few service stations and they are out of gas. Tanker trucks are stuck in this same traffic jam. Some genius closed a considerable number of rest areas that once dotted our highway system in Texas. There are some still open and tanker trucks are distributing gasoline to get people to the next station. But stations as far away as Dallas are running out of gas.
There are no trains to take people north. There is air travel out of Houston's two major airports, however, many baggage screeners did not show up to work today because they wanted to evacuate, too.
What is going to happen to these motorists tomorrow when the winds and rains hit? SUVs roll over in high winds. Debris will strike some of these vehicles. Every Texan knows to get out of their cars when tornadoes strike. How many people will experience this storm from a road side ditch? Is anyone making plans to get these people out of cars? Can the National Guard pick these people up in big Chinook helicopters? Will the highways clear before the storm makes landfall?