Evacuation decision making is a basic emergency management
function. Evacuation is a public protection action in a hurricane.
The purpose of evacuation is moving people from the hurricane storm
surge zones and mobile homes. The energy and the water volume in
storm surge present the greatest risk to life and property. Mobile
homes and similar type structures fail to provide reasonable
protection from hurricane force winds. Emergency managers' first
concern in hurricane events is moving those at greatest risk.
Hampton Roads has a complex hurricane evacuation scenario with
two bridge tunnels providing the only means away from one of the
storm surge zones. Traffic clearance times for the region indicate
a total evacuation of this area is not feasible or a realistic
option. Consequently, emergency management public awareness
programs encourage people who wish to leave the region, to do so
before they issue an evacuation advisory. Unfortunately, the public
will find they have to make that decision before there is a
reliable storm forecast.
Evacuation decisions are local decisions. However, there is some
effort to coordinate those decisions among jurisdictions in the
region. Normally, jurisdictions within the region participate in
conference calls for weather briefings and status updates from each
jurisdiction and state agencies. Evacuation decisions use
information gleaned from these calls, computerized tracking and
analysis models, and one-on-one discussions with the National
Weather Service. Key factors in evacuation decision making
- Providing enough time for people in storm surge zones and
mobile homes to move before the arrival of 39 MPH winds;
- Selecting an evacuation time to provide for the significant
movement during day light hours; and
- Making the decision before a peak news time when the media can
warn the greatest number of people.
People have several choices for their evacuation
destination. They can go to a hotel or motel outside the storm
surge zones, or home of family or friends, or they can go to a public shelter.
Evacuation and shelter openings usually happen simultaneously.
Last Update: 23 May 2012