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HOUSTON -- As part of the state's nearly 200-page evacuation plan, Texas leaders and oil company executives have created measures to improve gasoline delivery during hurricanes, in an effort to reduce instances of stranded motorists and shuttered gas stations during storm evacuations, The Associated Press reported.
Hurricane Rita in 2005 caused 3.6 million residents to evacuate their homes, resulting in gas shortages in and around Houston, the report stated.
Jack E. Little, former Shell Oil Co. president, was tapped by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to oversee the Evacuation, Transportation and Logistics task force. According to Little, the state lacked a plan to keep pumps full.
"What we know now is there was no fuel plan," Little told the AP. "Every company was on their own. The problem arose when the voluntary evacuation was overlaid on top of the mandatory evacuation and the roads were clogged."
The task force was made up of representatives from several large oil companies -- including Shell, CITGO, Chevron, Valero, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Marathon -- to craft a fuel delivery plan in times of hurricanes, the report stated.
The task force set a series of benchmarks, including:
-- Gas stations will no longer operate with storage tanks that are half-full or less during an evacuation.
-- When storm winds are five days from the Texas shore, fuel trucks will be filled, positioned in pre-selected staging areas and directed to gas stations along the coast. Their underground tanks will be filled to the 65-percent mark.
-- When storm winds are two days away, fuel distribution will move from the coastline to stations along the state's key northern and western evacuation routes.
-- Once the storm passes, efforts will focus on redirecting distribution in coastal cities, so people will have fuel for work and generators when they return.
-- Officials will use the state's electronic highway signs to inform Gulf Coast residents that hurricane season is under way and drivers should keep their tanks at least half-full at all times.
-- Messages on signs will inform drivers to fill up immediately as storms get closer.
-- Buses transporting the elderly and disabled will move out of a hurricane zone more quickly, reducing gridlock and the potential for health issues for those aboard.
As a result, the Texas Department of Transportation contracted for extra fuel to assist stranded motorists during storms and identified 17 rest stops along evacuation paths where state employees will be stationed to answer motorists' questions.