THE MAGAZINE

Everyone Needs an Exit Strategy

By Laura Spadanuta

Additionally, in his post-Rita work, Henk recommended having large tankers prepositioned along the evacuation routes so that cars could refill tanks on the go, and he says the state implemented an awareness campaign where people receive flyers reminding them about items such as fueling up as the storms approach.

Staggered departures. Doing evacuation orders in stages or phases is another way to mitigate bottlenecks and traffic standstills. Wolshon has also been involved in helping to develop how this can be done effectively. For example, a phased evacuation was implemented in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, with the earliest stage of the evacuation being reserved for people south of the Intracoastal Waterway who would have been at the most risk for flooding.

Henk recommended phased evacuations after Rita, as well. And he advised that they correspond to zip codes, rather than a color-coded map, to make it clearer when people should be leaving.

Special Needs

Hurricane Katrina also revealed that Louisiana and several other areas did not have adequate plans for evacuating those who were unable to drive, did not have vehicles, or were in at-risk populations. “There was really no plan put in place to evacuate the people of New Orleans who didn’t have access to cars, which was about a third of the population,” says John Renne, who led a study titled National Study of Carless and Special Needs Evacuation Planning.

The report found that outreach must flow both ways in disaster preparation. There should be public awareness campaigns from emergency officials to ensure that the carless and those who need assistance in evacuations are aware of the resources available. Additionally, information about needs must come from the community itself so that its members can be appropriately accommodated.

 

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