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Summary of Hurricane Evacuation for
Houston/Galveston Region 2008 (updated in 2013)

Hurricane evacuation plans have been developed under the executive order of Texas Governor Perry. The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management assisted in the development. The complete plan can be found at

Evacuation decisions must be made well in advance of a hurricane’s landfall despite the low probability of storm impact at the time of decision. Three of 4 evacuation orders, as a result, will be unnecessary. Evacuation decisions are best made by the well-informed decision maker.

Three types of evacuation:
    1. Voluntary – you may leave when you want to and go where you want to
    2. Recommended – officials will publicly recommend evacuation but you may go where you want to go
    3. Mandatory – used during category 4 and 5 storms; routes are controlled by police; leave as soon as possible or at the directed time; evacuees will be directed to specific evacuation roads

Rules for evacuation
    • Run from the water – if you live in a surge zone you must have evacuation priority. Historically, 90% of all hurricane deaths are from storm surge drowning.
    • Hide from the wind – if you live outside the surge zone in a safe structure, you should plan to stay. Wind is the least likely cause of death in a hurricane. Most homes can withstand 130 mph winds.
    • Evacuate in phases – those most at risk need to be able to leave first
    • Voluntary or recommended evacuations are the best time to leave.
    • Start out prepared. Plan to be in the car 15 to 20 hours. Take supplies with you. Understand that there is significant cost and risk to evacuation.

Who should evacuate?
    1. Those in the storm surge zones (see )
    2. Those in river flood plains or 100 year flood plains
    3. Those in mobile homes, high rise buildings, and unsturdy structures
    4. Those who desire to leave for the “convenience factor” should leave AFTER the storm is over if not well before official evacuation orders.
    5. Those inland from the surge zones who are in reasonably good health and live in sturdy structures are advised to stay home and prepare for the wind and subsequent loss of power.

Contraflow plans have been developed for I-45, I-10, I-37, US 59 and US 290 only. Contraflow will begin only when necessary and will be phased in 1 or 2 highways at a time. Contraflow establishment is dangerous and must be established from the destination point. It improves flow but not speed (speed is expected to be about 30 mph on contraflow routes). Detail maps can be found at
Contraflow will begin at highway choke points and will go to the following destinations:

    • I-10 contraflow will begin east of Brookshire and continue to Loop 1604 in San Antonio
    • I-45 contraflow will begin north of FM 1488 and continue to US 287 south of Ennis
    • US 59 contraflow will begin at the Mandell Road crossover in Liberty County and continue to Nacogdoches
    • US 290 contraflow will begin at FM 1960/Hwy 6 and continue to Hwy 1948 west of Brenham

Supported evacuation routes in Texas are I-45, I-10, US 290, I-37, US 281, and US 59. The SW and NE quarters (approximately) of the Sam Houston Tollway will be used as feeder roads to the primary evacuation routes from the surge zones. Toll booths will be open for free flow.

Comfort stations and gasoline will be available on the main evacuation routes listed above except for US 290. Food, water, porta potties, and medical assistance will be available at predetermined exits. Fuel will be available at designated stations along major evacuation routes about every 50 miles.

State shelters will be in all major metro areas of the state. They will be available for people who have no other place to go. State shelters and state evacuation vehicles will take pets. The current motto is “No pet left behind” but pets should be in cages or at least on a leash. Anyone without transportation can register for state evacuation transportation to state shelters by calling 2-1-1. The state will institute formal tracking for all persons and pets on state vehicles.

The state Mass Care Plan can be found at


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Last modified: 07/15/2013