See update below!
My mom praised the efficiency of Texas' evacuation plan for the coastal area. It worked perfectly and right now, the whole city of Galveston and surrounding communities, are completely empty. TxDOT switch the highway lanes and controlled problem exits so that everybody could leave. It worked perfectly and efficiently and should go down in history as such.
They only forgot one thing....
Nobody in their right mind could have predicted the massive turnout of evacuees from the Houston area. The plan never include a total evacuation of the city of Houston. Yes, almost the whole city of Houston is leaving. We're probably seeing evacuation rates well above the 60% they normally expect. The ones that are left right now are either diehards or just can't get on the freeways to even get out of town.
All the people that were supposed to be at my house are still in Houston. In a wise move, they decided to stay and wait until TxDOT completed the opening of the contra-flow lanes. That has started to alleviate the problem but not totally. One of my good friends got stuck this afternoon on the HOV lane, a walled off lane for carpools. She'd been in the same location for 45 minutes without moving. They couldn't run the AC much and simply sat under the 102 degree sun.
Up here in BCS, the bumper-to-bumper traffic flowed through our city at 45 mph. Tonight, it was completely clear with cars racing towards Waco. They couldn't stop here- our 20 shelters are already full with 3500 people.
Louisiana may be known for it's gambling but Texas sure isn't. People are leaving in droves. I think I scared my friend so badly that she might evacuate our own town! Some of my family is wavering back and forth between staying and leaving. I know it's a hard choice. All the people in counties south of Galveston had already evacuated. I'm sure that none of them will say that it wasn't worth it.
There's no business worse than predicting the path of a hurricane. Already, evacuations have been cancelled due to the change in course. The worse senario that I'm hearing is that Katrina will hit Galveston dead on and then stall out over the area with buckets of pouring water. Lots of businesses, especially hospitals, installed huge flood doors on the underground parking lots and basement businesses after Allison blindsided us.
You just need to live your life by that old proverb, plan for the worst and hope for the best!
My family left Houston 2 hours ago and they're finally half way here. My sister was actually doing the math to see if she would have enough to make it the full 100 miles to my place. They have 18 more miles of super slowness on Hwy 290 and they are home free on Hwy 6 to my place. Since they are not familiar with the many backroads of Texas, they decided not to take them and stuck to the main throughfares.
They are in the tail end of this evenings evacuees. The roads within Houston were completely clear for them and they didn't hit the traffic blockade until well out of town. This is great news for anybody that wants to change their mind and leave now. As much as I want to breathe a sigh of relief and say Houston/Galveston got lucky, I'm not quite at that point yet.
Hint! Hint! Hint!