Houston Calls For Mandatory Evacuations In Storm Surge Areas
Call 311 Or (713) 837-0311 For Help Evacuating
POSTED: 12:54 pm CDT September 20, 2005
UPDATED: 12:03 pm CDT September 21, 2005
HOUSTON -- Harris County and Houston emergency management officials issued a mandatory evacuation Wednesday for those in the storm surge zone and low-lying areas.
"We are asking all residents in the Houston area and the greater Houston area that are in the storm surge area for a hurricane of this force and above to begin making their evacuation plans," Houston Mayor Bill White said.
The evacuation was called for the following areas.
Those in the storm surge areas (low-lying areas in the east and southeast as identified by evacuation zone maps).
Those who live in mobile homes or other similar structures.
White said those residents must start leaving their homes at 6 a.m. Thursday. He also encouraged anyone living in areas prone to flooding to consider leaving.
"Use your common sense and (if) you doubt the capacity to withstand high winds, then we are asking you to evacuate," White said. "Few mobile homes, if any, could withstand some of the types of winds that may be characteristic of a hurricane that is of the projected magnitude of Rita. We are asking you to evacuate."
He estimated that as many as 1 million people may eventually be evacuated from coastal areas and low-lying, flood-prone zones in the state's largest city.
Several major highways leading out of the city have been designated as evacuation routes, and White said residents should start leaving as quickly as possible Wednesday to ease traffic jams.
White also asked all employers to not have employees report to work on Thursday and Friday.
"(This should apply to) any but the essential personnel," he said. "We asking school districts not to have school on those days."
For a list of schools and school district closures, click here.
White also asked Houstonians to help those without transportation or with special needs to evacuate.
"We need citizens who may need assistance in evacuating to reach out to friends, family, relatives, neighbors. We need citizens to look at where there are needs in our community for those who may need assistance in evacuating in the storm surge areas and those areas that have been subject to flooding in the 100-year-flood plain and mobile homes," White said.
Those who do not have the means to evacuate and cannot find anyone to help should call 311 or (713) 837-0311.
Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday also urged voluntary evacuations.
Perry cautioned that Rita would "quite likely be a devastating storm," and urged people from Beaumont to Corpus Christi to leave Wednesday because waiting another day would be too late.
He urged coastal residents to calmly gather important documents, secure their homes, fuel their vehicles and move inland.
White said shelters would be open along the evacuation routes but encouraged evacuees to first try to take advantage of their own accommodations, including friends, relatives or hotels north and west of Houston.
Margaret O'Brien-Molina, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Houston, said residents planning to stay in shelters should try to bring as much food and water as possible. She said an evacuation of the size now ordered could put a strain on resources in shelters.
She also encouraged anyone leaving their homes to pack supplies, including medicines, to last at least a week.