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Against the current

By Janet Shamlian, NBC News correspondent

I had the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 to myself as I drove from Houston to Port Arthur and into the projected path of Hurricane Gustav.  It was the oncoming lanes, those headed west and away from the storm,  that were running bumper-to-bumper for at least 60 miles. Horse trailers and boats were part of the mix on the slow-moving roadway, so were cars and trucks, overloaded with families and concern.

Forget about gas, at least at those stations right along the interstate, unless you're content to idle in lines running about 10 cars per pump.  I wasn't and now fear I'll be in trouble as my gas-guzzling SUV, which could double as my hotel room for the next few nights, churns toward empty.  

Just before Port Arthur, I passed a staging area along the interstate.  There were rows of ambulances and hundreds of buses at the ready. It's a different playbook than the last time I made this drive three years ago just ahead of hurricane Katrina.  But it might not feel like it if you're in those westbound lanes.  The trip from the Texas/Louisiana state line to Houston is usually about two hours.  Right now, it's double that and could grow longer because of mandatory evacuations like the one ordered for here in Port Arthur, a city where blue tarps can still be spotted, three years after Hurricane Rita made landfall.


Janet Shamlian / NBC News