Returning Evacuees Experience Serious Traffic Congestion

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Along Interstate 45, an endless stream of charter buses, cars and SUV's packed the road, until traffic was diverted elsewhere once they hit Madisonville.

For many Rita evacuees, returning home was another long journey. Traffic on I-45 was backed up all the way from Houston to Fairfield and most exits off of the freeway were closed. Add to that, traffic from US 59 was also diverted due to a flooded bridge in the Lufkin Area. The bridge was opened early Monday morning.

As the evening progressed, some motorists were again diverted to HWY 21 in Madisonville and then to HWY 6 in Bryan. This route was designated to keep traffic moving. Residents of Madisonville say the heavy traffic was far from normal.

"It's been bumper to bumper and it's been hectic. A lot of people have traveled back and forth and there is a lot of congestion," said Sherry Aguilar, Madisonville resident.

As the night went on, traffic showed no signs of letting up. Governor Perry created a staggered return home plan in an effort to avoid this kind of traffic congestion. But the number of motorists on the highway indicated that many did not follow the plan.