As something like a million people have fled the Houston and Gulf Coast areas of Texas, Hurricane Rita can already claim one record; she has been the cause of some of the biggest traffic jams in the world ever! The highways system around Americas fourth largest city simply aren’t designed for this mass Texadus. Authorities having been working around the clock to try and open inbound lanes to outbound traffic and Governor Rick Perry says that as slow as traffic is people should not turn back.

Jessica Lewis writes on her Xanga. “We slept from about 9:30pm till 2:30am, woke up, packed up, and got the hizell out. As I drove out of Kingwood Drive and entered the 59 feeder, there were cars EVERYWHERE. Stopped on the highway.”

Karen Salazar also reported the gridlock. “The traffic on the beltway going north, one of the evacuation routes, was inching along at 4 mph. I can walk that fast. Also, there is not enough gasoline in or around this city to keep your car going for such an ordeal – most stations that I saw yesterday were already out of gas.”

But as the city braces itself for 150mph winds and possibly the worst storm it’s ever seen, by no means has everyone evacuated. News media sources were already reporting that gas stations and supermarkets were running out of supplies as early as Wednesday ahead of the storm that’s predicted to hit late Friday.

On her Xanga Sommer writes. “We were gonna head out of town, but we couldn’t get a hotel or a motel anywhere closer than Lufkin. then we were gonna head to College Station and stay with some of my sisters friends…then I went to get gas this morning and there was none.”

Many though have deliberately decided to stay on and ride out the storm. “Our house is pretty much a fortress; if you shut out the lights you can’t see your hand in front of your face. I think that we are as prepared as we can be” Reports Jude Caldwell as her husband, Matt, defiantly sprays “Rita Sucks” on the boards that now cover their windows and doors.

Posting pictures on her Xanga blog yesterday Jude says that the experience feels surreal. “I’m at the point now where I don’t even want to watch TV to see where the storm is heading. Right now when you walk outside the sun is shining and the sky is perfectly blue. It is a beautiful day!”

Shae Cottar also decided to ride out the storm at his in-laws. But they may well now have additional people staying with them after guests from a dinner party failed to go more than ten miles in six hours after leaving the party due to the traffic gridlock. But when Shae and his brother in law went out to get some extra supplies they were greeted by an alarming scene near a closed Wal-mart store on highway 290.

“500+ evacuees that were stranded. Each with cars, babies, no food, no water, and no gas. I couldn’t believe it. They were all stuck at the gas station waiting on gas that was not going to come. I found a police officer who had a truck and had been filling the back end of it up all day with water and bringing it out to the growing masses. He was near tears. He’d been at it since 5AM and said, “This is the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen.” Writes Shae on his blog.

The BBC has reported that National Guard trucks are taking badly-needed fuel to petrol stations and stranded motorists around Houston. But one eyewitness told of how people were abandoning their cars and possessions when their vehicles ran out of petrol on the motorway.

Evacuating an area this size is fraught with logistical difficulties and other problems, such as the bus fire this morning which has claimed the lives of 24 senior citizens who were being taken to safety on interstate 45. But despite this, according to Texas state officials the slow evacuation is still “on schedule.”

The category 4 hurricane is due to make landfall later today at which point all anyone can do is sit tight and wait for it to pass. The stories of hurricane Rita may only yet be beginning, lets all hope they’re not as bad as some might fear.

Jessica Lewis’s blog
Sommer’s blog
Karen Salazar’s blog
Jude Caldwell’s blog
Shae Cottar’s blog