H+11: Evacuation Questions
I think the biggest friction point so far has been the evacuation. I think its clear that the plan needs to be refined.
I’ve received several emails and comments today about the plan.
Why weren’t the highways counter-flowed earlier? This was probably done too late, but it’s a tough call. Once you counter-flow the highways you can assume that you won’t be able to get much down them. This is especially true on US-290, which is not a very big road. I think the decision to counter-flow should probably be driven by two things: are the critical needs evacuations complete? Are you through moving assets back into the strike zone?
Fuel? Another problem. Both the private and public sector need to surge fuel into the evacuation zone. Gas stations should have tanker trucks standing by to fill their tanks. Mobile teams should sweep the evac zone from behind with buses and fuel trucks to clear out stragglers.
Why were smaller roads blocked? There aren’t enough responders to cover smaller roads in case of an emergency. Also, many of the smaller rural roads are flood prone. They were blocked deliberately so that they didn’t become traps once its started raining. Also, rural roads are easier to jam. One breakdown on a narrow country road could trap hundreds.
I think the plan needs to be refined. Here’s some death by PowerPoint, evacuation style.
Refining the Plan.
The evacuation should be phased by risk. I think the biggest mistake was telling everyone to get on the roads at once, regardless of actual risk. Galveston leaned forward early in the week because they knew what was coming. But, the suburbs of Houston that are more inland started moving out at the same time as the areas closer to the coast resulting in one big ass traffic jam (that’s the doctrinal term for it).
Another thing the state and locals can do is set up mobile aid stations along the route. Lots of reports of no-bathrooms and no supplies available. Rest stops were overwhelms. Dropping caches of supplies and porta-johns on the route would help.
I’m headed to the EOC here in a few minutes. I’ll work overnight and post when I can. I talked to my boss earlier in the day, and he said that Austin/Travis County had ~15,000 evacuees in our shelters and they were filling up fast. We planned on 40,000. Looks like we’re going to use every space.
More to follow…