National Guard sends tankers to aid evacuees in Texas

| 9/23/2005

For evacuees fleeing Texas in the face of Hurricane Rita, battling through traffic is only one problem they must face. A growing number of motorists have been running out of fuel as they sit in near standstill traffic for hours on end.

To that end, both the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Transportation began deploying fuel tankers to aid stranded motorists along Interstate 45 and Interstate 10 coming out of Houston.

Judy Curtis, a spokeswoman for the Texas DOT, told "Land Line Now" that the department has mobilized about 100 of its trucks to the area with fuel. Curtis said the department is stationing trucks at picnic areas and rest areas and has opened 11 of its maintenance yards north and west of Houston to allow people to come in and get enough fuel to get them out of harm's way.

In addition, Curtis said the department has courtesy patrols monitoring the highways to stop and aid those who have run out of fuel and can't get to the fuel stops.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the Texas National Guard dispatched two tankers from Austin early on Friday, Sept. 23, to help motorists stranded on Interstates 45 and 10 as well as U.S. 290 and U.S. 59.

However, CNN reported that those tanker trucks were having a bit of trouble. The nozzles on the military vehicles were too big for civilian vehicles, so special 1-inch nozzles had to be flown in.

The Chronicle reported that the trucks are working their way back toward Houston with 40,000 gallons of gasoline, and stranded motorists are asked to pop their hoods to signal they need fuel.

The state is also working with the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Texas Tank Carriers Association to bring more than 200,000 gallons of fuel in order to refuel the tankers. Some of the fuel will also go toward helping service stations reopen. That fuel is also being used to refuel the DOT trucks.