As hurricane Rita bears down on Texas (expected to hit land Saturday morning), an unprecedented situation is playing out on the highways. A month ago when people were told to evacuate New Orleans in the face of hurricane Katrina, many didn’t heed the call. Now, after seeing what happened there, residents of Houston are paying attention and packing their cars.

However, as they evacuate north along a couple of major highways, they’re faced with a problem the likes of which hasn’t been seen: traffic jams that are literally a hundred miles long. Cars are overheating or just running out of gas as people sit on the road waiting to get out of the city. I’ve read stories of people who spent twelve hours on the road, and never even got out of Houston itself. Wow.

The hurricane approaches, and people are now turning around– it’s better to face the incoming storm in a house than in a car, I suppose. There are concerns amongst the Texas government that people will literally die on the evacuation route because they won’t be able to get anywhere.

The past few weeks have certainly seen incredible and tragic situations. Politics aside, this is a time when all of us need to look long and hard at our own situations: if faced with a disaster of this magnitude, what would you do? And the government, trusted with the safety of its citizens, must examine its own policies to determine what might be done to avoid this sort of nightmare in the future.