LUFKIN, Texas (KETK) – As we follow the storm in in the Gulf, many people from Southeast Texas have been getting out of there and moving here to higher ground.
Two popular evacuation routes are Highway 69 and Highway 59 and both meet up in Lufkin.
In 2005 and 2008, for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, the city was quite the mess with evacuees and refugees pouring in.
It was these experiences that prepared Lufkin for whatever this hurricane season may bring.
We don’t when or where Barry will make landfall. Regardless, Lufkin is still preparing for a large group of evacuees.
“A lot of people are unaware of this but thanks to Trent Ashby, our state representative, we have an emergency headquarters here in Lufkin where there’s some supplies and stuff so we’re probably more prepared than people realize,” said Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown.
The city has been running drills for when those highways get congested or if the storm comes this way.
Over at TxDot they say they have a simple yet effective strategy for handling a slew of evacuees.
“In a major evacuation we would open contra-flow lanes where all traffic would flow in one direction,” said Rhonda Oaks, spokesperson for TxDot’s Lufkin District.
Lufkin learned a valuable lesson in the 2005 hurricane season.
At the time many Katrina evacuees were in Lufkin and a few weeks later everything fell apart.
“When we had our own, Rita, there wasn’t room in the end for many more people so it was a real real learning experience,” said Mayor Brown
Lufkin is also prepared in another way.
Two years ago, shortly after Hurricane Harvey, evacuees from the Gulf Coast ran into a sticky situation when the loop’s asphalt melted.
“This time I’m so glad to say we finished seal-coat season already in the Lufkin district,” said Oaks. “Our roads are good and they are ready for any sort of travel.”
As part of Lufkin’s storm preparations the Lufkin Civic Center can be used for anything from emergency operations to housing evacuees.
Because like the Boy Scout motto, “be prepared”