Evacuees hoping to avoid repeat of Hurricane Rita traffic nightmare

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Many residents who are new to southeast Texas tell Eyewitness News they're nervous about Hurricane Laura's impact while long-time residents fear a repeat of previous disasters.

With several voluntary evacuation orders underway for parts of the region on Tuesday, some people, like Olivia Weiss, have already packed up and moved farther inland.

READ MORE: Houstonians urged to stay off roads for people evacuating from Hurricane Laura

"[I'm] not really afraid," she said. "I know that Houston can flood really fast, and we didn't want to be stuck. Also, I remember Hurricane Rita. The evacuation was just so bad on [US-290]. We decided to go ahead and beat the traffic."

Weiss is now in Austin waiting out the storm.

Hurricane Rita hit in 2005 not long after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans.

People fled the area, and the exodus led to some of the worst traffic the region has ever seen.

It's estimated more than two million people evacuated from their homes at the time. Many were stuck in traffic nightmares for several hours without food and low on fuel.

Local officials are hoping to avoid that with voluntary evacuations broken down by zip zones. They're asking residents to wait until their zones are called before leaving to avoid more traffic disasters.

READ MORE: Harris County storm evacuation zones and routes

New Houston-area residents, like Sammi Lukas from Oregon, aren't ready to hit the road just yet.

"So far, it has been kind of rattling and chaotic, it feels like," she said. "We're still recovering from the move. We still have boxes to unpack, but also, we're figuring out where everything is for this emergency."

READ ALSO: County by County: Breakdown of voluntary evacuations ahead of Laura

Lukas said she's listening to local officials and closely following warnings issued by meteorologists.

"[I'm] more anxious," she said. "Just waiting to see what's going to happen and not knowing what to expect, because we've never experienced anything like this before."

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