It is hoped that the models will ultimately allow planners to anticipate route and traffic flow. However, though it’s been run using information from past storms, it is still just in a test mode. Whether it could work in real time has yet to be proven. Seeing if the simulation works in storms coming up would be the next step. But Wilmot says there are still some kinks to work out, so it’s not ready to be used in an actual planning situation just yet.
There are many aspects of behavior and transportation planning that are integral to getting people out of vulnerable areas in advance of a storm’s hitting or after there’s a disaster. And although past experiences have provided lessons that have assisted in recent years, there is more work to be done. As Wolshon says, evacuation can be an art, but there’s plenty of room for science and planning to be factored in.
Renne also notes that more should be done to connect local, state, and federal planning approaches. “Disasters don’t know political boundaries,” he says. “And we need to do a better job looking across regions and working from municipality to neighboring municipality to figure out how a region can come together and work collaboratively on these topics.”