Travel ill-advised in hurricane areas

| 9/15/2008

TxDOT officials are strongly advising against travel in areas damaged or flooded by Hurricane Ike until order is restored.

Crews were in cleanup mode on Monday, Sept. 15, but power disruptions, flooding and fuel shortages remained a concern, particularly in the Beaumont and Houston regions, Texas Department of Transportation officials said.

“Our concern is that Hurricane Ike evacuees returning home could run out of gas and become stranded,” said TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott.

“As drivers run low on gas, they're finding very few service stations that have fuel and electricity to operate their pumps. Fuel along re-entry routes remains severely limited.”

Truckers are advised to stay out of certain areas until further notice unless they are part of a coordinated relief effort or have been cleared to enter certain regions.

Danny Schnautz, an OOIDA member in Pasadena, TX, said there’s no point in going in if you’re just going to get stranded.

“Call ahead first, and don’t come in unless you feel you have a really good contact and they have said today that they’ll receive you when you get here, because a lot of people aren’t going to work,” Schnautz told Land Line Now on XM Satellite Radio.

“If you’re a delivering driver, if you’re in a safe, convenient spot, and you have utilities and water – to leave that and to come in, you’re really wasting a lot of time and diesel. Most places are either without electricity or are way understaffed and either barely open or not open at all.”

For information on Texas road conditions, call the Texas Road Condition and Travel Information Line at 800-452-9292 or click here.

TxDOT’s online emergency portal includes information specific to Hurricane Ike. Click here to view the site.

Texas is not the only state with road problems. Louisiana has braved several storms this season with Hurricane Ike as the latest. It’s wise to check road and traffic conditions before trucking into affected regions.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has a voice-activated 511 Traveler Information System available to most wireless and landline telephone users.

Drivers calling from outside the state can use 888-ROAD-511 (888-762-3511) for the same information.

Click here to access the 511 Traveler Information System Web site.

For the latest information on items specific to Hurricane Ike, click here or call the state’s emergency hotline at 866-288-2484. The hotline contains frequently updated recorded messages.

The Louisiana Motor Transport Association has posted valuable information on its Web site relating to road conditions. Click here to view the site, which includes up-to-date road closures.

– By David Tanner, staff writer

– Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.