"Heeding days of dire warnings about Hurricane Rita, as many as 2.5 million people jammed evacuation routes on Thursday, creating colossal 100-mile-long traffic jams that left many people stranded and out of gas as the huge storm bore down on the Texas coast," says the New York Times report of the desperate attempt to flee in adavnce of the hurricane. "Acknowledging that 'being on the highway is a deathtrap,' Mayor Bill White asked for military help in rushing scarce fuel to stranded drivers."
Even with days of advance warning, it has still proven all but impossible to evacuate major metropolitan areas relying largely on private vehicles. After the crisis eases, this is something officials will have to think long and hard about. Do we try to come up with plans that will allow for reasonable evacuations, that somehow better augment the private automobile/SUV? Do we acknowledge that our current development patterns are dangerous, and work in the long term to make them safer? Or do we basically acknowledge that such widescale emergency evacuation needs are rare and thus accept this inability to get people out in a reasonable manner? Because doing nothing is actually dong the last choice - admitting that we simply can't evacuate a major metro area in any sort of timely fashion.