Houston reawakens

The Houston chronicle has been superb - they have two Rita-themed blogs, one called The Road Home, which has latest user-supplied information about road conditions as evacuees return to Houston from Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, and also the Rita Blog, which has tons of helpful info about gas stations, supermarket re-openings, power restoration, etc. Everything we need to know.

My home in Dickinson looks like it should have power restored by the time we get back. We plan on leaving Tuesday morning; my wife has to be back at UTMB by wednesday morning.

Also via Eric Berger, a good analysis of why the evacuation - though impressive in scope - was so painful:

Hurricane planners have a little ditty that goes, "run from the water, hide from the wind."

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.

This echoes Taha's comments from two days ago, IMHO. Plus, if the wind is hurricane strength and you have children, who is going to fault anyone for running from the wind?

UPDATE: Mayor White also had a similar critique:

Days after the evacuation that saw tortuous delays on Texas highways, Houston's mayor says the handling of gasoline supplies is "totally unacceptable."

Speaking to reporters, Mayor Bill White says that's a part of the state plan that needs improvement.

People trying to flee north from Houston sat in traffic all day or night, and some ran out of gas. Those who could make their way to gas stations often found the pumps empty.

we need to learn from this for next time. It went amazingly well. But it needs to be done better, especially since today's chronicle did have stories of tragedy (including the death of at least one child from heat exposure, and the infamour exploding bus) directly attributable to the titanic traffic snarls. Contraflow would have helped immeasurably, and MUST be part of the plan next time, period.

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