Things in Houston are quickly returning to normal. Gas stations are being resupplied, grocery stores are busy restocking shelves, businesses are reopening and streets and highways that were eerily deserted last Friday and Saturday are once again full of cars.
An article in Monday's Chronicle regarding the evacuation process reflects my feelings about the ordeal. As the subtitle says, "The evacuation shows more need to stay put, and all lanes should be outbound."
Hurricane planners have a little ditty that goes, "run from the water, hide from the wind."As I've said, a lot of people got caught up in a (mostly-media-driven) frenzy and left when they probably would have done just as well to stay where they were, and that exacerbated the evacuation chaos. It also absolutely amazes me that, before last Thursday, there was no contraflow evacuation plan in place - it was all done ad-hoc as the interstates leading out of town became hopelessly clogged with people.
It means evacuate if you are in a coastal surge area, but hunker down if you are in an area that will get hurricane-force winds and rain only.
The biggest problem in Houston's painful evacuation last week was that perhaps a million people, almost half of those who left, ran from the wind. To make matters worse, the regional evacuation plan was missing a key element — pre-planned contraflow lanes that are a part of virtually every other hurricane-prone city's evacuation strategy.
Hurricane Rita is a learning experience for everybody: residents, local planning and law enforcement officials, elected officials, and, hopefully, the local media.
(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015.)