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Highway To Hell: No Exit September 3, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ok, I-59 during the evacuation was not precisely the Highway of Death. Still, many Louisianians were trapped in a miles-long parking lot with no way to exit: not exactly a healthy environment. If no elderly or infirm person died it was mostly a matter of luck. (Note: I went up I-55, the Highway of Shoot Me Now, Its Another Slowdown, but not quite the Highway of Death). So don’t take my word for it: read Loki’s account.

That is Odd, that exits were closed in the most congested areas, and people were not allowed to get off.

Planning my return to Toulouse Street this afternoon, I noticed this:

Lincoln, Pike County – I-55 S at the city of McComb
Last Updated on 9/3/2008 3:00:02 PM
Lanes Affected: Southbound All Lanes
Approximate Duration: 4 hours
Cause: Heavy Congestion
Additional Info: Exits in McComb will be closed intermittently due to high volumes of traffic.

So, when a Federal highway in Mississippi gets really congested the Mississippi State authorities respond by closing the exits so you can’t get off and find an alternate route. I think someone in Mississippi has some explaining to do. Are they afraid that “those people” might get off into back roads where they can’t be controlled? (This is not an exclusive problem to Mississippi. A spokesman for St. Tammany Parish all but insisted on WWL that people who arrived before the blockades were lifted without enough money or gas to go back be moved to the south shore to wait)

Also worth some investigation is Mississippi’s decision to block Louisiana residents access to I-10 East–an interstate, Federal highway–so that the people of the Gulf Coast might evacuate in the direction of the storm unimpeded. Forget Mississippi’s excuse about the Mobile Tunnel. Anyone who’s been to Destin knows that a huge mess on an average Saturday afternoon but there is an alternate route north for people approaching from the west. All they had to do is send the evac traffic up I-65.

What is happening is this: Haley Barbour and the Mississippi authorities are willing to commandeer interstate Federal highways for their own benefit. If those are the “rules” we’re going to play under, I think at the next tropical storm watch the Louisiana National Guard needs to wire the Pearl River bridges and be ready to blow them to make sure we get out first this time.*

*Note for Homeland Security Types: since the DHS probably doesn’t have the sort of high standards of education once required of the FBI, I should probably explain this particular paragraph is a figure of speech known as hyperbole, which I suspect is not on the extrance exam for DHS, and may not be taught in Mississippi public schools.** Hyperbole is an intentional exageration, and in no way indicates that I would approve of this action on undertake it myself. I would, however, unhesitantly take advantage of it were it to occur.

** Yes, that was an insult.


1. Charlotte - September 3, 2008

” This is, after all, Mississippi, where the state flower and the state costume for cross burnings are the same color. Some unlucky Louisianians might find themselves inside the wrong city limits come dusk.”

Cheap shot. I thought you were above perpetuating stereotypes. As a Mississippian, I am offended.


2. Maitri - September 4, 2008

Oh, come on, Mark. We took back country highways all the way through Mississippi on the way to Birmingham and back, and were never once booted off. And I’m brown! All it takes is a wee bit of pre-planning and never getting on the interstate. When we were on the interstate, it killed me that all we had was a two-year-old state map and there were those with GPS units who were stuck in long lines of traffic.


3. LIsaPal - September 4, 2008

I have to admit that it bothered me to hear a representative from the LA State Police report to WWL radio listeners that Mississippi had closed off 1-10 East “to detour people coming from New Orleans.” That’s what he said. Apparently, people coming from the Northshore burbs via I-12 were allowed to proceed. That statement was uttered more than once and it left me with a very sick and disgusted feeling.

As undesirable New Orleaneans heading east to Florida, we (along with countless other like us) took a miserable 4.5 hour tour of the Rigolets and got into and out of Mississippi on Hwy 90.


4. LIsaPal - September 4, 2008

I should add that the trip –usually 4 hours in duration — took 10 hours.


5. Wet Bank Guy - September 4, 2008

Maitri, might I remind you it was not too long ago you counciled some friends not to take a senic-route trip through Alabama and Mississippi.?

Charlotte, as long as Halley Barbour gets a free pass for looting hurricane recovery money and the people of Mississippi adore him, there is no such thing as a cheap shot. Mississippi remains among the states that refuses to strike the stars and bars. That said, I’ll take out the last trope and leave in the reference to “those people”.


6. Maitri - September 4, 2008

Their trip was to take them through eastern TN and northeastern AL where I have encountered some weirdness on the interstate! I’ve never had problems with back country roads anywhere in this country, even when doing field geology by myself and one field assistant.


7. Charlotte - September 4, 2008

Mark, you know nothing about the people of Mississippi. The people of MS took in “those people” by the droves after Katrina and this time – fed them, gave them a bed. The people of this little town have taken evacuees into their homes, the merchants have provided food and meds for little or no charge. I know this first hand.

They have a right to “adore” Haley Barbour. They have a right to believe any way they wish, just like you. Are you saying because it’s mainly Repub that it’s ok to insult them? And you call yourself a progressive? Don’t do me any favors taking out your hateful comment.

You owe the good and decent people of Miss an apology. And I will defend them vigorously to anyone just as I would New Orleanians and friends that I respect and love.



8. Maitri - September 4, 2008

Mark, I don’t want to argue with you about this. Folks in MS and AL were really nice to us during this evacuation and I want to give credit where it’s due. Obviously, you and I had two very different experiences, but I think the poor evacuation experience through MS has more to do with flow mishandling than racism. For instance, MS was trying to keep its own people from going east to the AL coastline where they could still have got hammered. That is all.


9. mikimoto - September 12, 2008

Leave Mississippians and our educations out of your this.its not like we chose to close the roads.Secondly,I dont adore haley barbour what so ever.and we were patient with lousisania evacuees letting them get gas before we did and driving cautiously around town trying to get supplies.people like you make me sick.specially since you never hear about how my town gets screwed after every hurricane everyone only hears about new orleans


10. mikimoto - September 12, 2008

and come up with something better than stereotyping us all as ignorant white trash it annoying and makes YOU look like the ignorant one


11. Wet Bank Guy - September 12, 2008

Well, frankly mikimoto, your elected officials chose to close the highways and endanger the lives of people in Louisiana.

How does your town get screwed after every hurricane. Screwed, perhaps, by Haley Barbour and the people who are rushing to rebuild casinos instead of homes and call it a miraculous recovery.

I have family in Mississippi, or at least I did until Katrina wipped them to the ground for the second time in our generation. They are now family in Louisiana, and well inland.


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