Well, Rita came through. For a time, it looked like it was going to hit home here in Houston. We were lucky and dodged the bullet. Folks in East Texas and Southwest Louisiana ... not so lucky. Yes, I evacuated. Didn't want to take any chances. However, I didn't spend 20+ hours on the road ... we were going to leave Thursday afternoon, but came back after getting caught in the traffic ... this was even on the back roads. So, we left early Friday morning and didn't hit traffic on US 290 until Chappell Hill. Rather than fight the traffic, we went down a bunch of back roads, including some gravel roads and some with no painted lines. How did we do this? Well, first, I have a DC-AC Power Inverter from my friendly neighborhood Radio Shack, so I could run my laptop all day long. Second, I also have Microsoft Streets & Trips with GPS Locator. So ... between the two, we were able to map a route through back roads to Austin and saw NO TRAFFIC. Not only that, we also were able to get gas along the way. This is definitely the way to do it.
So ... I wound up in KatrinaSafe. Ironic though it may seem, Microsoft was using this to track their own employees that evacuated. The team currently working on it has updated the software and database to support multiple evacuation events ... so relief workers and evacuees can use one tool, one web site, to handle all evacuees, regardless of the event. It's also been adopted as the official solution for the American Red Cross. It's good to know that the work that we did isn't going to end with Katrina ... but will be used in the time to come to track evacuees and continue to bring families together. Certainly, we had this in mind when we created the site and applications.