Rita’s Lessons

I spent some of my weekend keeping up with news from the Hurricane Rita front. Luck was finally on our side for a change, and Rita weakened and turned toward a less populated area, away from the increasingly important oil refineries around Houston. Small consolation to those who did get hit, however. Out thoughts are with them.

In the spirit of my Hurricane Katrina post, I’d like to offer some more observations I’ve made after watching Hurricane Rita and her aftermath.

  • In a weather event, pay attention to the weather forecast, but realize that it can be inaccurate. Don’t make the mistake of not preparing because “The storm is going to hit 100 miles from us.” You wouldn’t want to be dead wrong.
  • Evacuating a major metropolitan area in less than a week is a near impossibility. The transportation infrastructure simply doesn’t exist for everyone to be on the roads at once.
  • Evacuate early if you’re going to evacuate at all. Those in Galveston and Houston who waited until Thursday to leave were caught in a traffic jam of monumental proportions. There are numerous reports in the mainstream media and from bloggers in the area that document the problems–4 hour trips that took 24 hours, no gas, cars overheating and so on. I saw one report of a bus of elderly evacuees that couldn’t make it to their destination, and were forced to shelter in an elementary school in the storm zone.
  • If you choose to evacuate, carry extra gas. Exercise the normal precautions in doing so.
  • If you chose to evac, take plenty of food and water for the trip in addition to what you take to use at your destination. Remember, you aren’t the only one bailing, and convenience stores will be stripped just as bare as the big grocery stores and Walmart.
  • Another reason to evacuate early are the reports that police in the Houston area were actually closing secondary roads, forcing people onto the already packed major highways. In light of this, I’m going to work out even more ways to get out of Dodge, using even smaller streets, and I’m going to research the idea of using the 4WD and going down utility easements as a last resort. Google Earth to the rescue?
  • Most new multilane highways are not designed to have their flow of traffic easily reversed. This exacerbates the difficulties of evacuation, and is another reason to leave early if you leave at all.
  • If you live in an area that gets a certain kind of disaster on anything like a regular basis, your home should be designed to deal with it. Do that, and you may be able to bug-in rather than bug-out.
  • Looting may start even before the storm hits. Situational awareness at all times.
  • Both Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina are the best reported weather disasters ever. Don’t thank the mainstream media, because it was the people who lived it and have blogged it or emailed reports to friends and family. This sort of knowledge will be important to those of us who are preping for the next Big Disaster.

Each time a survival situation occurs, the good survivalist should educate themselves on it as much as possible, and draw as many lessons from it as they can. As before, if I come up with more lessons, I’ll edit this post to reflect them.

Here’s some words from those who were there:

Great work, guys. You ever get to North Carolina, the beer or range time or whatever is on me.

Edited 9/27/2005 @ 9:43 PM. Added link to another first person account; changed the entry for Head’s evac as noted in the text.
Edited 9/28/2005 @ 3:45 PM. Added link to another first person account.
Edited 9/29/2005@ 9:41 PM. Added link to the last of Doc Russia’s evac posts.
Edited 10/7/2005 @ 8:48 PM. Added link to Jacobus Rex.

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