A catastrophic medical emergency
I was unable to evacuate.
After ten hours on Interstate 10 headed for San Antonio and safety (My hometown, so I have lots of family there), the highway became immobile. It became a completely stalled parking lot.
Traffic was moving at the rate of one mile per hour. Driving since midnight, the sun was now hot, fumes from the cars created a light floating blanket of carbon monoxide. We had driven 17 miles. Getting off the highway was problematic, since the access roads were also parking lots. Too many cars.
There was no gas available at the service stations. Via cell phone calls and family reports from San Antonio, it was clear that this problem stretched for most of the entire 200 miles of freeway. We would certainly run out of gas long before reaching San Antonio as the car engine idled without the car moving. Only 10:30 in the morning, the Texas heat was already scorching hot and running the AC was out of the question. With the risk of not the car but ourselvees overheating, water was a lifesaver.
Faced with the prospect of running out of gas and stranded in a toxic, health-threatening heat, my partner and I maneuvered off the freeway and returned to Houston where we are going to a shelter. I think we will be safe there, remaining awaya from windows and as interior as possible.
Please let the media know that the story on Interstate 10 is not a story about a traffic nightmare. It is a health emergency. I saw elderly couples in their cars clearly suffering from heat exhaustion. One elderly man, his wife in the passenger seat, became so confused and overwhelemd that he inexplicably put his car in reverse and rammed onto the pickup truck behind him. He was clearly dazed.
Many, many of the families did not pack enough water so dehydration is a real problem. Some of the poorer families have their younger children and teenagers in the back of flatbed pickup trucks, with no cover from the sun and in direct contact with the fumes. They are in danger of heat exhaustion and toxic inhalation of the fumes. There are single mothers with babies stranded in the heat.
Seeing people trapped in this mass of cars and fumes, perhaps in the near future we will move as a country towards seeing the folly of our corporate, economic, political “oil machine.”
Last I heard, Mayor White is insisting that helicopters begin delivering onsite medical attention. He called for the stupid FEMA and oil company officials drive the tanker trucks with gas onto strategic parts of the freeways to deliver gas. Clearly, neither he nor the others, anticipated the total paralysis of the freeways.
The evacuees need ice and water. Even though it is now in the evening, it is HOT. The cars are not moving. The evacuees did not anticipate this problem, so they did not pack enough water, food, medicines. There are no toilets.
I experienced this first hand and now I am seeing it on TV as I pack some things to go to the shelter and take my chances.
If you hear in the news that there are traffic problems on our freeways, call and let them know that it is primarily a medical, health emergency. And this will become a death sentence for many if the cars do not move out of here soon. They are in danger of being caught in the strong winds and rain of the hurricane.
One bright spot that may help move things faster (if gas arrives) is that the organizers, Texas Department of Transportation have made alll the inbound freeway lanes “outbound lanes.” I wish they had done this from the very beginning. This is an excellent idea that surely will eventually help a lot. But the problem now is that there are 24″ concrete barrier blocks between the outgoing and the incoming lanes, so the outgoing evaccues cannot get to the other lanes, that are remaining mainly unused. Surely this has a solution. If we had the personnel and large machine vehicles, those concrete blocks could be demolished. Time is really running out for the cars to get on their way before the winds and rain come.
Pray for safety. I won’t be blogging for a while.
I do feel relatively safe.