City is Better Prepared for Hurricane Evacuation

Hurricane season is a few months away, but city emergency planners have a new tool at their disposal should a big one come our way. Bill Stamps explains.

Anyone who was around for Hurricane Rita probably has a nightmarish story to tell. Not because of the damage, but because of the traffic. Many Houstonians vowed to never get caught up in that again. City planners are doing their best not to let it happen again. They’ve put together a new computerized map of the region.

TransStar computer“We have a pop up box that brings up the info on what’s going on out there. What agency is responsible for it, who to contact. We can then change that into a deployed and not deployed state.”

That’s David Fink of TransStar. He says the interactive map allows for better coordination among agencies and emergency personnel — something which was severely lacking during Rita.

“What you have now during Hurricane Rita it took almost 12 hours to do a contra flow. We’re hoping to do that less than four now because of this map. Because that’ll give information to DPS as they get traffic control out there at those critical points and stuff like that.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is chair of a Homeland Security Transportation committee. Steven James represented her office and has this to say about TransStar and the new computer map.

“Congresswoman Jackson Lee spent many hours in the Houston TransStar facility during the preparation for and during the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. She is proud not only of the facility, but the people who work here.”

Although the computer program was not in place during Hurricane Ike, Mr. Fink says the evacuation process went a lot smoother than during Rita.

“Some people said yeah they had a longer deal, but other people said it was just like a bad holiday weekend travel out of town. So I felt like we had made major strides and this is some of the reason for that. We had better information coming back to us.”

They believe the evacuation process will only get better should another major hurricane come our way.