Three days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, evacuations were ordered in and around Houston, Texas, on Monday morning. The decision came after additional rainfall on Sunday, which itself came in the aftermath of local officials cautioning against such a move on Friday, despite the governor encouraging residents to leave.
“Even if an evacuation order has not been issued by your local official, if you are in areas between Corpus Christi and Houston ... you need to strongly consider evacuating,” Gov. Greg Abbott said on Friday. “If I were living in the Houston region, as I once did, I would decide to head to areas north of there. Think of your life first.”
The emergency management spokesperson for Harris County, which includes Houston, went out of his way to counter Abbott on Twitter:
Kathleen Blanco, who was Louisiana Governor during Hurricane Katrina, told The Daily Beast that it looked like there was no evacuation plan in place. “It’s not apparent to us watching that they have developed a sensible evacuation formula,” she said. “You can’t tell everyone to leave at the same time or you end up with gridlock, especially in a big urban center.”
She also noted that New Orleans was able to evacuate 1.3 million people before Katrina hit.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, without necessarily explaining why there was no layered evacuation plan, argued that putting 6.5 million people on the road would have made the situation worse:
In Dallas, local officials are preparing the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, which includes a 10,000 seat arena, for use as a “mega shelter” for 5,000 people starting Tuesday.