Remembering Hurricane Rita 15 years ago

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Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Houston freeways were bumper to bumper as millions evacuated because of Hurricane Rita

Hurricane Rita swirled toward the Gulf Coast as a 165-mph, category 5 storm 15 years ago.

More than 1.3 million people in Texas and Louisiana were evacuated, with many stuck on the roads for hours and hours in gridlocked traffic.

PHOTOS: Looking back at evacuation in advance of Hurricane Rita

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Hurricane Rita evacuees were trapped in gridlock for nearly 24 hours, September 2005.
AP Photo

In 2018, meteorologist Travis Herzog shared his memory from that time:

"Houston and Galveston dodged the worst of the devastating hurricane, but it was category 5 chaos on the roadways two days before expected landfall. That's when millions of people, most living outside of evacuation zones, decided to hit the streets and flee the approaching monster. This led to the extreme gridlock on HWY 290 (and all other major freeways).

I don't blame anyone for wanting to get out. This was less than one month after Katrina flooded New Orleans, LA and destroyed Gulfport, MS. The morning of the spontaneous evacuation, Rita was packing winds of 175 mph and the center of the forecast cone was aimed just east of Houston.

It was a terrifying time.

Sadly, the evacuation proved more deadly than the hurricane. A lot of lessons were learned the hard way, lessons that I hope we can successfully pass on to future generations and transplants to the region."

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