Review of Hurricane Hotel Tracker @neworleanstech

Posted on July 25, 2014 By

Hurricane Katrina 8-28-05 Planning evacuation for a storm that spans 4 states.

Hurricane Katrina 8-28-05. Click to enlarge.
Planning evacuation for a storm that spans 4 states.

By the time I finally reached friends in Memphis, 2 weeks after Hurricane Katrina, as Rita bore down on Louisiana, over 3 million people had landed in or passed through the city. 4 states worth of evacuees had flat worn out basic services and hotel rooms were fast and furious or non-existent. 

This is why I’ve always counseled evacuees to line up hotels early. If one plans to evacuate, then it pays to establish a relationship with more than a few hotel/motels along a route, even pay a deposit on a room, well in advance of hurricane season. When setting up lodging, the best course is family. Yet, even then vacancy may be an issue and one shouldn’t depend on the size or direction of storms -or the myriad tangential side-disasters that inevitably accompany them. It may be a few days, or an evacuation can last weeks as water is pumped out of the city, as in New Orleans after the levees failed 8-29-05.

I still lived (evacuated) in Memphis 3 years later, during Hurricane Gustav. I was online and on the phone with friends driving up from New Orleans, giving directions, checking with my own family who live between the two cities for traffic updates etc.  Hotels and gas stations in Jackson, MS were sold out. We didn’t have twitter then, and if Gustav had hit directly full force we may not have had cell towers. This is why you should always line up lodging well in advance of needing it. If you’re going to evacuate in front of a hurricane You Will Need Lodging. Where one stands to land in an evacuation is as important and vital as what they’re carrying, from birth certificates, deeds, insurance papers, money, children, all the way down to the family pets. Running from hurricanes can be a delicate matter at best. At worst, uncertain lodging makes the whole show dull indeed. ~Bruce Biles

Historical hurricane tracks.

Historical hurricane tracks. Click to enlarge.

@chrisboudy has recently published a searchable hotel database that New Orleanians can use during hurricane season.  As a local, I say hats off to the Times Picayune and all that were involved in creating this project.  This year (more than any) I have taken hurricane planning and preparation seriously.  My family has their go-bags, stocked up on supplies, discussed when to stay or when to go, and mapped our way out of town in case we have to evacuate.  Before this tool, I did what most of you might do, pulled up a variety of sites that had hotel listings to figure out pricing and distance.’s new searchable database will go a long way to help citizens with hurricane planning.

According to their website, they divided the region into geographic zones defined by the Interstate highway evacuation route and combined info from various resources to search more than 1,000 shelters across a four-state area (which include Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama). Read more.

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