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      411 on evacuating the Rio Grande Valley during a storm

      After Hurricane Dolly many residents swore up and down they would never ride it out again. If another storm like that comes will you evacuate?

      If you decide to hit the road the toughest question you'll need to ask is which road to hit.

      Depending on where you are and how close the storm is your escape route may not be the one you planned on.

      There are many to choose from so always have an alternate and alternate to your alternate tucked away.

      For example: If you live in Los Fresnos you will take Highway 100 West to U.S. 77 North. You will have three routes to choose from; heading west on Expressway 83, State Highway 107 or even as far North as Highway 186.

      But, if the storm is bearing down on the Valley and the state has enacted the contra-flow measures you will be routed to Expressway 83 via 77 then straight north on us 281 through Hidalgo County.

      The contra flow measure is like someone pulling the plug on a bathtub, one pipe will drain off all evacuees from the Valley.

      To prevent the pipe from clogging both sides of the road can be opened to outbound traffic.

      Getting to know these evacuation routes is important here in the valley since many access points to these roads are not permanently marked; the only way to know if Highway 107 is an established escape route is to read the map or hope and wait for a last minute word or sign from the state.

      Depending on the circumstances you may be asked to take the long way west through Rio Grande city to Laredo, don't forget other cities like corpus and Kingsville may be evacuating too.

      Border patrol assures everyone there are no residency requirements for evacuation, no papers will be checked or questions of residency asked if you are only escaping the storm.

      The most important thing to remember is fortune favors the prepared. Unless you make special arrangements for any special needs, you alone will be responsible for your evacuation. It will be your gas, your car, your food and your hotel out of your pocket.

      Be sure to call the state sponsored 211 system to set up any help you might need evacuating; you must do this well ahead of time so you will have fewer headaches getting a seat on a bus or a place at a shelter. Don't forget to ask if your pets are allowed at any public shelter you may be heading to.

      Leaving your home is not easy and worrying about it being damaged or destroyed is even harder but like the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so have your insurance papers with you and any other necessities ready to go in order to make a clean get-a-way with as little hassle as possible.