Texas evacuees in 100-mile traffic jam

HOUSTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Evacuees jammed the highways north of Galveston and Houston as Hurricane Rita threatened the Texas coast Thursday afternoon.

Houston Mayor Bill White urged residents living in areas not prone to flooding to stay put. At a news conference carried by CNN, he said the highways must be clear before the hurricane arrives.


"If the hurricane comes in at a particular angle and at a particular location, being on the highway is a death trap," White said.

The National Hurricane Center said if the storm stays on its expected track it will come ashore late Friday near the Louisiana-Texas border.

For the first time ever, state officials made three major highways one way to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of vehicle fleeing the Texas coastal area.

Many gas stations ran out of fuel, and officials said there was a logistical problem in getting tankers through the traffic to replenish supplies. Many of the evacuees were driving gas-guzzling sport utility and recreational vehicles and towing boats or trailers.

Nancy Leggio, executive producer of Traffic Pulse, told the Dallas Morning News effects of the exodus were being felt in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


More than 1.3 million residents in Texas and Louisiana are under orders to evacuate to avoid a repeat of Hurricane Katrina.

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