SHELTER IN PLACE AND EVACUATION PLANNING: LESSONS LEARNED FROM HURRICANE IRMA AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR HURRICANE DORIAN
Evacuation planning is critical for emergency managers to successfully respond to an incident and safeguard their communities. The Hagerty Team’s approach to shelter in place and evacuation planning integrates traditional and non-traditional stakeholders and utilizes best practices to create successful plans. Many of the outlined evacuation concepts that follow were validated during a state-level response support for Hurricane Irma.
In 2017, residents of southern Florida were encouraged to evacuate as early as four days before Hurricane Irma made landfall. As Irma continued to strengthen a mass evacuation was issued for the entire state, with approximately 6 million people evacuated from Florida during the incident. As Dorian approaches the mainland, it is critical for individuals to heed evacuation protocols to ensure safety at the time of the storm. Community leaders should begin coordinating evacuation zones and routes to shelter in place or evacuate, evacuee populations, clearance times, resource needs and requests, evacuation facilities, hazard updates, public messaging, and re-entry processes.
A critical portion of the evacuation process is to clarify what common terms mean, such as full or partial evacuation, recommended evacuation, and mandatory or voluntary evacuation. It is common place that even when mandatory evacuation notices are sent out to the public, people do not leave and view the ordinance as a suggestion. Establishing common terminology and promoting all protective actions helps to eliminate confusion during life safety operations by streamlining operational communications. The clearer the guidance, Hagerty finds, the more likely the public is to follow the guidance. However, it is incumbent on people to listen to the advice of their local government and evacuate.
#HurricaneIrma: Mandatory evacuation ordered for all Miami-Dade residents of zone A and barrier islands of zone B (Miami Beach included). pic.twitter.com/jZPvN2dEKC
— Miami Beach Police (@MiamiBeachPD) September 6, 2017
To effectively stage evacuations, evacuation plans should consider a Unified Regional Coordination (URC) framework to ensure crossjurisdictional communication and phasing during the evacuation process. Hagerty also suggests that officials phase evacuations according to impact and population vulnerability, providing enough time for all impacted individuals to safely evacuate. Local jurisdictions should give attention to hazard risk for the planning area, transportation accessibility, and how evacuees will re-enter communities.
“It’s the actions [citizens] take right now, because taking action now will help bolster the whole response.“
Brock Long, Fox News Interview
Additionally, populations with critical transportation needs (CTN) should be considered in the holistic plan for evacuation as these communities need additional time or assistance to relocate, and should be notified well in advance of the storm. CTN populations typically include homebound populations, individuals with access and functional needs, individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals with pets, unaccompanied minors, and individuals with no access to a vehicle.
Hagerty is home to some of the nation’s leading evacuation planning subject matter experts, including those who have supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Integration Center (NIC) in evacuation focused technical assistance for communities across the nation. Hagerty understands that evacuation plans should continuously be updated and evolve. Our team of experts can help develop effective sheltering and evacuation plans and user-friendly operational tools which help ensure effective execution of the plans.
Based on the pending storm, Hagerty’s Executive Chairman Brock Long wanted to expand upon his thoughts in a recent conversation with Fox News as evacuation considerations are weighed.
Click the button below for the full interview.
Keep track of Hagerty’s Hurricane Dorian coverage here: Hurricane Season 2019