(Crossposted to Brendan Loy's site (in comments), as I'm on dial-up and not certain how my site's going to react, also he is better read)
I made it out of Houston–to the North east. We were well prepared, but what should have been a 1.5 hr drive from eastern houston to Woodville (n. of Beaumont) turned into a SEVEN-hour trek. once we got past it, we were in good shape, but it made the whole drive last 12 hours instead of the usual 6.5. We left at 4 a.m…. and it still wasn't early enough.
There was good and bad about how the evac was handled on our side of town, and everywhere for that matter. Good: Police at most intersections. Bad: Everyone channeled into the same few routes, instead of being allowed to find their own way. We knew back routes to avoid most of the BS and get where we were going, but at least two hours got added by the constant attempts to redirect us to Lufkin. once we slipped through an unposted intersection on a road not even on the maps. once we let them direct us, and I made a bad call. At a key juncture, we simply disobeyed directions and skirted a roadblock (they didnt' seem particularly bothered), otherwise we'd have been channeled back into the jam on 59 and forced into Lufkin. The final time, we simply told an officer where we wanted to go, and he directed us around the block to get back on track. Our path cut across several evac routes, but interfered with none of them, although being channeled interfered with us. Leaving folks alone to make their own decisions and simply expediting movement would have been better, I think.
One note I want to make. This was a learning experience and I fault no one for the mess. NO WHERE, NO WHEN has any evac on this scale ever been attempted. Not with this many cars, this many people, this widespread of an area. The amazing thing is it has gone as well as it has, and my hat is off to the authorities for coping, thinking outside the box, and dealing with the random blows, such as a large group (including an 18-wheeler) on I-45 declaring their own “contraflow”…now that could have been bad.
My hat is not off to the TSA, whose staffers failed to show up for work, causing 4 hour long lines at boarding gates at the airports. Nor is it off to whatever functionary who decided the inspections MUST continue, no matter how much they delayed flights.
I and the family have made good our escapes, and are with relatives in NE La., but I have friends that gave up trying to get out of the city due to the horrible traffic.
Due to being on dialup, posting will be severely curtailed over the next several days.