Today there have been reports of extremely bad traffic leaving the Houston area as folks try to evacuate in advance of hurricane Rita. The visuals on TV show mile after mile of stop and go traffic, and one report said there was gridlock for a 100 mile stretch of highway. I’ve seen a traffic jam or two, but can’t imagine being stuck for over 10 hours on a hot, humid Texas highway.
One of my colleagues has a brother who lives in the area, and after a failed attempt to leave via the interstate, decided there had to be a better way. In a science-fiction meets reality scenario, they made their getaway. First, the Houston based brother called his sibling in Colorado and aided by Google, the Denver brother acted as navigator and led his distant family to safety. One of the difficulties they had to surmount was the increasing scarcity of gasoline; Google offered a very modern solution to this problem. Here, with permission, is their report:
My brother works for an oilfield services company in Houston and decided to evacuate, although his home wasn’t in the flood plain. It was pretty difficult, but it looks like we managed to use technology to get his family out when it seemed impossible.
– He tried taking the direct route (I-45 to Dallas) Wed 3pm and turned back after going 12 miles in 3 hours in 98deg heat. From reports in today’s Houston Chronicle, this has been a pretty common theme for all the standard evacuation routes out of Houston.
– Late last night, we decided to give it a shot using the back roads. Fortunately, there was good cell coverage and I was acting as remote navigator/gas station finder using Google Earth. There has been a run on gas and the gas station overlay was just incredibly useful in allowing me to check stations that still had gas and plot a plausible route.
– The family managed to make it to DFW in 12 hrs elapsed time (less than 8hrs drive time) via College Station and Waco. They took back routes almost exclusively until they got near College Station and
again between College Station and Waco. From there on, TX-77 and I-35 did not suffer from the congestion seen around Houston when they came up that way (today 9AM-12noon).
– They’re scheduled to be on a plane en route to Denver in another half hour. Flights are still available out of DFW.