Evacuation Past & Future

Meterologist Wade Hampton looks at how it would be easier to get way from a dangerous storm.

Lake Charles resident, Ted Park: "Well we got gas. We got food."

Then Ted Park says his family hit the road along with thousands of others all seeking shelter from Hurricane Rita.

Lake Charles resident Carol Dufrene: "We ended up driving 19 hours all the way to Memphis TN."

Steve Jiles, with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, says, "We only had really two northbound routes out of here. We had others but they all tied into the same two."

That left some areas with high levels of congestion.

Jiles says the hours-long wait at the intersection of 1st and Pine in DeRidder left motorists backed up all the way to Moss Bluff.

Jiles: "So we felt like we had to address that junction where they all merge in DeRidder and we feel like we've done that in some ways but it's certainly not going to make it perfect but we feel like we can reduce that delay by a couple, 3 hours."

He says every hour counts when trying to escape a storm.

Jiles: "I think the most important thing is to get out of town. Get as far out of town as fast as you can and then worry about the final destination later, but some pre-planning would definitely help."

Lake Charles resident Chrissy LeBleu: "Knowing the best routes is very important. Knowing to get small snacks because when you go to the gas stations its slim pickin's and you've got to wait 30 minutes in line just to get a non-tasty bag of chips."

Lake Charles resident Eden Jackson: "We really didn't do anything we just kind of left last minute."

Dufrene: "I think what we learned was that we'll prepare a little more in advance as far as a place to stay."

Park: "We'll leave probably a little earlier than what we did."

State officials have also acted on lessons learned from hurricanes of the past.

Jiles: "There are 3 broad elements to our evacuation plan generally Lake Charles, Lafayette, and DeRidder and all of it's tied into the evacuation of Southwest Louisiana....The segments that we intend to run contra flow are on I-10 between HWY 165 and I-210. We intend to run eastbound traffic on I-10 along what are currently the westbound lanes of I-10. We also plan to run contra flow on a short one mile segment in DeRidder north of the 190 junction."

Another plus, traffic on highway 171 is being re-opened to four lane traffic this week. You may have also noticed construction on 2-10 just south of highway 90 where the median has become an official ramp for contra flow.

Jiles: "That is where we'll actually switch the eastbound traffic on I-210 to the westbound lanes of I-210 and they'll actually follow that lane back onto the junction of I-10 to go east in the westbound lanes."