Transportation Systems Casebook/Evacuation Best Practices (Lessons Learned)

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Summary[edit]

Taken together, natural disasters (comprising hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, firestorms, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions) affect 26+ million people in the US and 255 million globally each year. There are six areas that contribute to the success or failure of any evacuation: Control of the Evacuation, Evacuation of Vulnerable Populations, Fuel Availability, Evacuation Routes, Media Influence and Public Awareness.[1] The page reviews major hurricane areas and evaluates the critical failures during past evacuations and lessons learned that resulted in policy changes.

List of Actors[edit]

President
Can declare a state of emergency or disaster for any situation. The President plays a large role in disaster response but does not have much of a role in evacuation.[2]

Governor or Tribal Chief Executive
The Stafford Act[3] gives the authority to issue the evacuation orders or delegate authority to the local officials. He or She must request that the President declares a state of emergency or disaster to receive federal aid. The governor has the authority to activate his state's National Guard and request assistance from other states based on the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.[4]

Mayor
Issues a local evacuation order and advises the governor on local needs.[5]

National Guard
Will pre-stage equipment for hurricane response. They can also assist local police to provide security during evacuations and provide transportation to evacuate people from areas using ground or air assets.[6]

Local Law Enforcement
Actively enforce and facilitate evacuation operations. They have several responsibilities including actively evacuating people from their homes, ensuring that people safely evacuate the area, enforcing curfews, escort essential supplies, build protective barriers around hazardous materials, maintaining law and order during and after the evacuation, and actively preventing looting.[7]

National Hurricane Center
Collects storm data and analysis, enabling them to provide advice to decision makers on necessary evacuation areas, storm strength, establishing watches, and warnings. They provide the data on the affected area or to appointed state organizations in order to advise local or state officials.[8]

Homeland Security and FEMA
Work in conjunction with each other to advise state and local governments on creating and refining evacuation plans and procedures. They also assist in coordination for critical evacuation resources (transportation, delivery of supplies, support locations and shelters). They control air space, movement for all resources and manage security operations in the evacuation area to ensure delivery of supplies and evacuation of vulnerable populations.[9]

Clear Identification of Policies[edit]

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act)

In 1974 President Nixon signed the first version of the Disaster Relief Act later to be known as the Stafford Act. This act established law and guideline to plan, evacuate, and recover from disasters. State and local governments are required to establish evacuation plans to include establishing routes, stock piling necessary supplies, shelter locations and shelter plans. They must also plan for evacuation and delivery of necessary resources. Plans must consider all modes of transportation in order to relocate and evacuate all residents in the area including vulnerable populations. Public education plans must be made available to all, including limited knowledge of English. This act has been amended several times to expand its scope usually in the wake of a hurricane.[10]

Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA)

In 2006 following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina PKEMRA was used to amend the Stafford Act to prevent future loss of life. PKEMRA established a Disability Coordinator and developed rules and guidance to ensure individuals with disabilities have appropriate care, transportation equipment and shelters capable of tending to their needs.[11] It established the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System to reunite family members separated in the evacuation process. It coordinated and supported precautionary evacuations and recovery efforts. It also provided transportation and relocation assistance to individuals without the means to provide self-transportation. And it provided case management assistance to identify and address unmet needs of survivors of major disasters.[12]

Public Law 109–308

Amended the Stafford Act to require evacuation plans to include households with pets. [13]

Public Law 104-321

Congress granted consent for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). EMAC are agreements between Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and all U. S. territorial possessions to provide assistance during an emergency situation. It also includes providing emergency services, evacuation shelters, National Guard personnel, and any other government aid or personnel required. The requesting state is required to compensate for all services rendered.[14]

Jones Act
This requires only United States flag ship vessels to transport goods between the coasts of the United States.[15]

Policy Issues

Lack of Enforcement These policies make the State responsible for enforcing these standards but the States are reluctant to hold people liable for failing to meet these guidelines. The federal government does not have guidelines to hold States responsible for failing to enforce these standards.

Funding The acts did not include additional funding for building infrastructure to assist in meeting these guidelines. FEMA can assist in contracting and coordinating public transportation. Areas lack the amount of various routes and modes required to meet all of the established guidelines.

Timeline of Events[edit]

Each evacuation plan is unique to each case, as differences in scale and structures of the cities exist. Generally, the evacuation takes place 72 hours before the landfall of the hurricane, when the mayor of the city announces mandatory evacuation.

Usually, the hurricane watch condition follows 48 hours[16] before estimated landfall. Ideally, during this phase, people should review their evacuation routes and the items in their disaster supply kit, add or drop items based on their needs especially for children, or the elderly.

During the hurricane warning phase, 36 hours before the landfall of the hurricane the following steps should be taken: “follow evacuation orders from local officials” [17], communicate with family and friends to update them about your conditions, and follow the checklists provided by the city websites concerning preparedness in relation to where the landfall will hit first. The hurricane warning phase can be divided into four different sub-phases:[18]

36 Hours before landfall

During this phase, people should usually be constantly updated with the weather conditions and the emergency instructions, prepare the items for their disaster supply kit making sure to include water, food, batteries, first aid supplies for at least 72 hours. Moreover, people should plan on how to communicate with their families should there be an outage of power. Phone lines are usually overloaded, so it is more reliable to send texts. It is, in addition, recommended to keep the fuel tank of vehicles full in order to evacuate. In this phase, people should stock their vehicle with the emergency kits and supplies for the evacuation.[19]

18-36 Hours before landfall

During this phase, people should keep checking for updates concerning weather conditions and emergency instructions.[20] This would be the phase where people take care of removing lightweight objects from the perimeter of their houses, and take these inside the house. It is also recommended to trim or cut trees that could fall on buildings. Windows should be covered in case the storm will break the glass.[21]

30 Hours before landfall

People who evacuate, usually do so 30 hours before landfall, either by reaching the closest evacuation spot posted in the city website or by using the contraflow lanes[22] designated as the “evacuation route”. Usually, evacuations start with inland areas and then coast areas are the last ones to evacuate in order to help the flow of traffic.[23]

6-18 Hours before landfall

Weather and emergency updates should be be checked every 30 minutes during this phase and people should be charging all their devices in order to have full battery to communicate during the disaster.[24]

6 hours from landfall

At this point, if some of the people have not evacuated, they are recommended to be home and keep family and friends updated about their conditions. People should stay away from windows and should set the temperature of their fridges and freezers to the coldest option so that in case of power outage, the food can be stored for longer. In addition, people should check emergency communications, weather conditions and city websites for constant update about the disaster.[25]

Maps of Evacuation Routes[edit]

The Stafford Act requires that all areas have established evacuation routes including posted signs, primary routes and secondary routes, and established control measures to convert two way roads to one way roads. Below are links to Miami, New Orleans and Houston evacuation plans with best practices listed for each. [26]

2014-08-27 10 58 11 Sign for the Coastal Evacuation Route at the Red Lion Circle

Miami Evacuation Route[27]

  • Clearly marked evacuation zones
  • Well established primary and secondary routes
  • Displays additional routes

http://www.floridadisaster.org/publicmapping/Evac/EVAC_MIAMI-DADE.pdf
New Orleans Evacuation Route[28]

  • Map is interactive tailored to location
  • Establish how many hours are required for evacuation
  • It can be downloaded and used on mobile applications

http://www.contraflowmaps.com/
Houston Evacuation Route[29]

  • Has a clear date to reevaluate the map
  • Displays the flow of traffic during a evacuation

https://www.h-gac.com/taq/hurricane/documents/2017-evacuation-routes-map-small.pdf

Critical Failures and Best Practices[edit]

I-45 & Louetta Rita Evacuation

Evacuation Control

Evacuation control is critical to a safe and effective evacuation. In September 2005 several counties in Texas had a mandatory evacuation order issued for several counties including those that were not in the direct path of the storm. Officials anticipated that only 800,000 people would evacuate and 1.2 million actually evacuated.[30] Most travelers ran out of gasoline on major evacuation routes causing further congestion. This spurred FEMA to institute policies requiring States to maintain fuel reserves for emergency evacuation purposes.[31] They also issued evacuation orders for inland counties prior to the coastal areas completing their evacuation. This caused extreme traffic congestion, public hysteria, and dangerous road conditions leading to 107 of the 113 deaths during Hurricane Rita being attributed to the evacuation.[32]

Best Practices

In years since several States have developed control measures to prevent evacuations turning fatal. Most States have developed evacuation zones with separate primary and alternate routes. States have also started factoring in congestion from neighboring counties when developing evacuation timelines like New Orleans displays on their evacuation routes.[33] FEMA requires that supply deliveries of fuel and other essential resources are on pre-established routes.[34] During Hurricane Irma to ensure that hurricane evacuation routes were used critical supplies were only delivered along the routes.[35]

Vulnerable Populations

La. Air Guard hosts joint aeromedical evacuation exercise 150416-Z-PB681-003

Evacuation plan policy makers should address the importance of evacuation planning for vulnerable populations. Vulnerable populations include but are not limited to people who are unable to self-evacuate in a car and those with specific or functional needs[36]. Vulnerable populations include elderly, hospitalized, children, homeless, and handicapped. During Hurricane Katrina nearly 1 million people evacuated by automobile within 48 hours. However, vulnerable populations, specifically elderly people, were not able to evacuate. Therefore, post Katrina disaster, evacuation planning for vulnerable populations requires a national policy response. As shown in a study, the failure of evacuation planning prior to Katrina caused over 1,800 deaths, of which 71% of the victims were over the age of sixty and 47% were over the age of seventy-five[37]. Ever since, evacuation planning for vulnerable populations has been a major policy issue to address. For this reason, the matter of vulnerable populations shifted to be a matter of not only sociology and emergency management, but also a discipline of transportation and planning. In fact, in 2006, the GAO (Government Accountability Office) carried out a study to address this issue in the policy making process. One of the study’s major findings was that one of the most critical challenges to address during evacuations was to identify appropriate transportation modes for vulnerable people.

Best Practices

The major problem identified by the GAO was that both state and local governments are not disposed to evacuate “transportation-disadvantaged populations”[38] because they lack preparation and organization of planning, training and exercising. In addition, another problem that had to be addressed was legal barriers, such as liability concerns, regarding roles of agencies and across jurisdictions. The post-Katrina disaster led various actors (city of New Orleans, together with public, nonprofit, state and federal agencies) to create the City Assisted Evacuation Plan (CAEP), which was tested during Hurricane Gustav in 2008. This evacuation program addressed specifically people with medical needs, who needed to be evacuated in a short period of time. In the case of Hurricane Gustav, they were transported to Belle Chasse Naval Air Field. In addition, the plan also focused to address the elderly, transporting them by Amtrak to the neighboring safe states. The homeless were also picked up from different locations in the city and transported to designated areas. The CAEP was created based on the lessons learned from Katrina concerning vulnerable populations and has become a “best practice” for this matter. In addition, the failure to include vulnerable populations within the evacuation plans, led Congress to pass the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 mentioned above.

Fuel Availability

Out of gas Enmark S Patterson St, Valdosta, Georgia

Fuel shortages have occurred during several evacuations. For example, during Hurricane Rita in 2005 some travelers were in traffic for over 36 hours unable to find fuel stations, clogging the evacuation routes once their vehicles ran out of gas.[39] Most travelers ran out of gasoline on major evacuation routes causing further congestion. This spurred FEMA to institute policies requiring States to maintain fuel reserves for emergency evacuation purposes.[40] Several oil refineries were shut down in the wake of Hurricane Harvey earlier this year cutting Florida off from its fuel reserves during the mass evacuation from Hurricane Irma. [41] Hurricane Irma was one of the largest evacuations seen in Florida’s history and many travelers were left stranded on the roads, 12 years after precautions were taken to prevent this occurrence.

Best Practices

As previously stated States are required to maintain fuel reserves for emergency situations. Unfortunately due to the refineries in Texas being shut down in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Florida could not access its fuel reserves.[42] Florida’s Governor arranged for shipments to be rerouted from other States and provided police escorts for deliveries. They focused on resupplying evacuation routes and urged travelers to take only as much fuel as they required to get to safety. The President also waived the Jones Act of shipments of fuel delivered to Florida by ship.[43] Local law enforcement also made allowance for gas station owners providing them with police escorts if they were willing to wait to evacuate ensuring many others made it to safety. In spite of the fuel shortage in Florida measures were quickly utilized at all levels to assist in correcting the crisis.


Public Awareness and Media Influence

Hurricane Irma (37116202616)

The media has been indicated as being one of the most important influences to make sure people evacuate when natural disasters happen. A Congressional Research report claims that one of the first lessons learned from hurricane events is that “informing citizens about evacuation routes and shelter locations as part of a community preparedness activity can help reduce the amount of time a household takes to evacuate. Without this information, households are generally slow to react to an evacuation order”[44] However, further researchers have demonstrated that information alone does not guarantee best evacuation practices nor more people evacuating outside the danger zone. Major findings have been discovered through hypothesis testing of different issues[45] which are supposed to collaborate with information about the severity of the event. In 1985, FEMA started a National Hurricane Program to address these issues. Following is a summary of each problem identified when it comes to evacuation:

Perceived Risk and Evacuation Behavior

When the information conveyed to people about increased winds appears severe, then it will be more likely that people evacuate from the danger area. However, risk perceived from the storm surge does not have the same effect of the strong winds, meaning that people will not perceive the risk of surge as seriously as the strong winds leading to fewer people evacuating.

Information Sources about Evacuating

The media has a positive impact on evacuation pattern decisions of people that are within the official evacuation area. However, it has been shown that people that are out of the designated evacuation are less likely to evacuate. What made people outside the designated evacuation area make the decision of evacuating was the neighbor's behavior. The more neighbors evacuate, the more people from the same neighborhood do. This seems to increase the risk perception of the event.[46] Another source of information that has shown to be essential to increase evacuation has been the knowledge of designated evacuation areas; it has been shown that the more people know about the evacuation plan, evacuation location, the more likely it would be for people to evacuate.

Sociodemographic Characteristics of Evacuation

A study shows that “none of the social and demographic control variables (e.g., age, children in the household) have a significant effect on the evacuation behavior of the respondents inside or outside of an officially designated evacuation area.”[47] The only variable that seems to have significant weight was the age variable. The more elderly people in the household, the less likely they seem to evacuate.

Best Practices

All these studies about evacuation behavior and patterns can be helpful in implementing new policies as well as creating initiatives to modify these patterns and make sure everyone evacuates during natural disasters. The National Hurricane Program (1985) started by FEMA is one of these initiatives that helps protect communities through awareness. The major goals[48] of the program are training for emergency managers of state and local governments, and Federal agencies; and operations which provide support to both state and local managers during the hurricane event. It has been also useful to provide role assignments especially for state and local and federal agencies.

Evacuation Exercise[edit]

The class will break into groups of three and plan an evacuation of ten people from George Mason Arlington Campus. This plan must include node, routes used, food and shelter plan for all ten people, one person will have additional medical considerations. You will have 10 minutes to develop a plan using the internet and the class presentation.

Further Reading[edit]

Director, Hani S. Mahmassani; Center, Transportation; University, Northwestern. "Traffic jams during hurricane evacuations are entirely preventable". Quartz. https://qz.com/1073562/hurricane-irma-evacuations-are-not-doomed-to-create-traffic-jams-if-done-right/. Retrieved 2017-10-03. 

"About the National Hurricane Center". http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutintro.shtml. Retrieved 2017-10-24. 

nrf_massevacuationincidentannex.pdf, https://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nrf/nrf_massevacuationincidentannex.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-24 

"Congressional Document". https://congressional.proquest.com/congressional/result/congressional/pqpdocumentview?accountid=14541&groupid=96011&pgId=ac6b703f-d64d-4a28-87b1-f28a249885e9&rsId=15EB542DE1E. Retrieved 2017-10-24. 

Stafford_ActselectHSA2016.pdf, https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1490360363533-a531e65a3e1e63b8b2cfb7d3da7a785c/Stafford_ActselectHSA2016.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-24 

"Transportation Systems Casebook/Evacuation Best Practices (Lessons Learned) - Wikibooks, open books for an open world". https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Transportation_Systems_Casebook/Evacuation_Best_Practices_(Lessons_Learned). Retrieved 2017-10-24. 

mass_evacuation_incident_annex_2008.pdf, https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1825-25045-6500/mass_evacuation_incident_annex_2008.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-24 

Armey, Richard (2002-11-25). "H.R.5005 - 107th Congress (2001-2002): Homeland Security Act of 2002" (webpage). https://www.congress.gov/bill/107th-congress/house-bill/5005. Retrieved 2017-10-24. 

PLAW-109publ308.pdf, https://www.congress.gov/109/plaws/publ308/PLAW-109publ308.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-25 

"What Is EMAC?". https://www.emacweb.org/index.php/learn-about-emac/what-is-emac. Retrieved 2017-10-26. 

Cuite, Cara; Morss, Rebecca (2017-09-08). "Perspective | What to tell people to get them to evacuate before a hurricane hits". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/what-to-tell-people-to-get-them-to-evacuate-before-a-hurricane-hits/2017/09/08/09b1efc0-93e0-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 

"The Disaster Declaration Process | FEMA.gov". https://www.fema.gov/disaster-declaration-process. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 

2017-evacuation-routes-map-small.pdf, https://www.h-gac.com/taq/hurricane/documents/2017-evacuation-routes-map-small.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-28 

"Appendix E: Best Practices - Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation: A Report to Congress". https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/hurricanevacuation/appendixe.htm. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

"How Harvey made it harder to evacuate for Irma - Vox". https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/9/11/16287628/gas-shortage-irma-harvey-evacuation. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

"U.S waives Jones Act to secure fuel for hurricane responders". Reuters. 2017-09-08. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-irma-shipping/u-s-waives-jones-act-to-secure-fuel-for-responders-to-hurricanes-idUSKCN1BJ2GE. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

Carpender, S. Kay; Campbell, Paul H.; Quiram, Barbara J.; Frances, Joshua; Artzberger, Jill J. (2006). "Urban Evacuations and Rural America: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Rita". Public Health Reports (1974-) 121 (6): 775–779. ISSN 0033-3549. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20057041. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

"Hurricanes | Ready.gov". https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

"Hurricane - NOLA Ready". https://ready.nola.gov/plan/hurricane/. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

Renne, John (2011). "Evacuation Planning for Vulnerable Populations: Lessons from the New Orleans City Assisted Evacuation Plan". Brookings Institution Press. 

EVAC_MIAMI-DADE.pdf, http://www.floridadisaster.org/publicmapping/Evac/EVAC_MIAMI-DADE.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-28 

"Contraflow Evacuation Maps - New Orleans, Louisiana". http://www.contraflowmaps.com/. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

EVAC_MIAMI-DADE.pdf, http://www.floridadisaster.org/publicmapping/Evac/EVAC_MIAMI-DADE.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-28 

"Contraflow Evacuation Maps - New Orleans, Louisiana". http://www.contraflowmaps.com/. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

2017-evacuation-routes-map-small.pdf, https://www.h-gac.com/taq/hurricane/documents/2017-evacuation-routes-map-small.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-28 

Congressional Research Service (2011-09-04). Federal Evacuation Policy: Issues for Congress. http://archive.org/details/240115-federal-evacuation-policy-issues-for-congress. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

Stein, Robert M.; Dueñas-Osorio, Leonardo; Subramanian, Devika (2010). "Who Evacuates When Hurricanes Approach? The Role of Risk, Information, and Location". Social Science Quarterly 91 (3): 816–834. ISSN 0038-4941. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42956432. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

Stein, Robert M.; Dueñas-Osorio, Leonardo; Subramanian, Devika (2010). "Who Evacuates When Hurricanes Approach? The Role of Risk, Information, and Location". Social Science Quarterly 91 (3): 816–834. ISSN 0038-4941. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42956432. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

Congressional Research Service (2011-09-04). Federal Evacuation Policy: Issues for Congress. http://archive.org/details/240115-federal-evacuation-policy-issues-for-congress. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

"Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act". https://emilms.fema.gov/is230c/fem0101200.htm. Retrieved 2017-10-28.  "40 Years Ago: The Disaster Relief Act of 1974". National Low Income Housing Coalition. http://nlihc.org/article/40-years-ago-disaster-relief-act-1974. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

References[edit]

  1. "Appendix E: Best Practices - Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation: A Report to Congress". https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/hurricanevacuation/appendixe.htm. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 
  2. "The Disaster Declaration Process | FEMA.gov". https://www.fema.gov/disaster-declaration-process. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
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  7. Template:Cite interview
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  11. "Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act". https://emilms.fema.gov/is230c/fem0101200.htm. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 
  12. "Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act". https://emilms.fema.gov/is230c/fem0101200.htm. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 
  13. PLAW-109publ308.pdf, https://www.congress.gov/109/plaws/publ308/PLAW-109publ308.pdf, retrieved 2017-10-25 
  14. "What Is EMAC?". https://www.emacweb.org/index.php/learn-about-emac/what-is-emac. Retrieved 2017-10-26. 
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