Texas Department of Transportation Warns Against Return to Beaumont and Houston Areas

By Heidi VanderVelde

Motorists encounter fuel shortages, block recovery vehicles

AUSTIN (9:00 PM CDT, September 14, 2008) The Texas Department of Transportation strongly discourages travel in and to areas affected by Hurricane Ike. Significant traffic backups were reported Sunday evening on roads leading into Houston.

“Our concern is that Hurricane Ike evacuees returning home could run out of gas and become stranded,” said TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott. “As drivers run low on gas they’re finding very few service stations that have fuel and electricity to operate their pumps. Fuel along reentry routes remains severely limited.”

“We are also concerned that citizens attempting to reenter the area are clogging routes needed by rescue and recovery convoys carrying emergency crews, medical supplies, utility crews, water and ice” said TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott. “Utilities remain disrupted. Search and rescue missions are ongoing. Curfews are in place across the area. We need those roads to remain clear for the rescue and recovery efforts led by the State of Texas.”

Many local officials are asking the public to stay away from the affected area. The public is reminded that local officials will decide when it is safe for residents to reenter neighborhoods affected by the hurricane. TxDOT is working diligently to open roads and bridges for rescue and recovery traffic.

- Drivers are strongly encouraged to wait for confirmation from local officials that it is safe to travel.

- Drivers should obey all traffic signs, warnings and barricades. Any intersection with a non-working traffic signal should be treated as a four-way stop. Moving a barricade can result in jail time and a $1,000 fine. As little as six inches of rain can float a car, so motorists should stay on roads that are open and safe and not drive into water.

- Safety is TxDOT’s first priority. The public is reminded to beware of hazardous conditions. They may confront dangers including high water, snakes, down power lines and other dangerous debris.

- When local officials confirm that it is safe for residents to return to areas affected by Hurricane Ike, TxDOT reminds motorists to prepare before they embark on a long drive, especially those returning to hurricane impacted areas.

- Gas up before you leave
- Gas up again when your fuel gauge reads half
- Check tires and tire pressure
- Make sure you have a good spare tire and flat repair equipment
- Top off all the fluids (radiator, window washer, oil and transmission)
- Pack a first aid kit
- If you have a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged prior to leaving
- Pack additional necessary personal medications
- Pack some food and water
- Make sure you have a state map

- For information on Texas road conditions, call the Texas Road Condition and Travel Information Line (800-452-9292) or visit TxDOT’s website: www.txdot.gov

NOTE:
The following messages are currently being displayed on TxDOT dynamic message signs in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio districts:

Phase 1
DO NOT TRAVEL
TO HOUSTON
AND BEAUMONT

Phase 2
LIMITED FUEL
IN OR ON ROUTES
TO HOUSTON


Source:  “News Release: TxDOT Warns Against Return to Houston and Beaumont Areas.”  TxDOT.  15 September 2008.

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One Response to “Texas Department of Transportation Warns Against Return to Beaumont and Houston Areas”

  1. Adam Dorsey Says:

    Checkout http://www.pollabear.org for updated information on what is going on in Southeast Texas after Hurricane Ike. Video footage, POD locations, Food Stamp locations, FEMA locations and much more.

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