The National Academies

NCHRP 20-59(32) [Completed]

A Transportation Guide for All-Hazards Emergency Evacuation

  Project Data
Funds: $299,880
Research Agency: Louis Berger & Associates
Principal Investigator: Ms. Deborah Matherly
Effective Date: 4/27/2010
Completion Date: 4/30/2012

Emergency evacuations—especially of major cities—have taken on new prominence following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Large evacuations are not uncommon; for example, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has documented that evacuations of 1,000-plus persons occur every 2 or 3 weeks, from diverse causes. In addition, other significant events have highlighted the need for improved, integrated evacuation planning and procedures for state and local departments of transportation (DOTs) and emergency management agencies. Most evacuation guidance is produced by state emergency management agencies. That guidance needs to be augmented with transportation specifics in order for state and local DOTs to produce viable operational plans and to provide expert technical advice within state and local Emergency Operations Centers, Transportation Management Centers, and Fusion Centers (or their equivalents) during actual events. This need has been expressed by state DOT emergency-planning personnel at USDOT-hosted exercises and in after-action reports. Research is needed to take the significant amount of completed research and documents now available and consolidate it into practical all-hazards, all-modes evacuation guidance for use at the state and local level. 
The objective of this research is to develop an all-hazards emergency evacuation guide for transportation and emergency management agencies that integrates the broad community of resources that are necessary to plan, train, exercise, and execute evacuations. The primary audiences are those at the state and local level who are responsible for planning (and execution or support) of an evacuation within a state, including but not limited to transportation, public safety, and emergency management.  The Guide will be of interest to other entities involved in support of evacuations, including transit, paratransit, advisors on access and functional needs, fire, law enforcement, public works, and health and human services, as appropriate, to be able to mobilize evacuation resources and make well-considered tactical decisions. The Guide is designed to be applicable on a state, multi-state, or cross-jurisdictional border basis.
Phase 1
(1). Review relevant practice of evacuation as currently addressed through statewide and regional transportation plans. Describe opportunities for improving the practice focusing on lessons documented.  (2). Describe in practical terms the roles of the various modes of transportation and other entities in evacuations, as properly practiced under the National Incident Management System/Incident Command System structures. The modes and entities addressed should be inclusive of those able to mobilize evacuation resources and make well-considered tactical decisions. They should include law enforcement, transit, paratransit, advisors on access and functional needs, fire, public works, health and human services, and other resources as appropriate, such as (a) ADA-mandated paratransit systems, (b) dial-a-ride, (c) fixed-route buses, (d) non-profit organizations, (e) Area Agencies on Aging, (f) Regional Center vendors, (g) taxi systems, (h) non-medical emergency services, (i) school district transportation systems, (j) adult day health care, (k) airport shuttle buses, (l) airport car rental shuttle buses, (m) older adults center vendors, and (n) health care center vendors. (3).  Describe a means of integrating the Task 2 modes and entities into effective execution of roles and responsibilities in the conduct of evacuations.  (4).  Describe how to match appropriate resources to evacuation needs, with particular emphasis on (a) specifying general and practical resources that may be needed to effectively relocate vulnerable populations and transportation disadvantaged citizens (e.g., identifying accessibility features, mobility aids) and (b) making specific scalable requests (e.g., resources to transport 15,000 people 120 miles in X hours as opposed to just requesting 200 buses).  (5). Based on previous tasks, develop operations plan templates that include, but are not limited to (a) criteria for selecting evacuation routes, specialized maps, visual aids, and signage; (b) timelines for both notice and no-notice events; (c) flow-charts of functional roles and responsibilities for evacuation, including notice to and hand-off to reception sites or shelters; (d) re-entry; and (e) a matrix or other tools for choosing appropriate evacuation operations strategies. (8). Prepare an interim report summarizing the results of Tasks 1 through 7. The interim report should also include (a) a detailed outline of the final guide and (b) a detailed, updated work plan for Task 9.  Describe the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and limitations of different resource approaches to carrying out the roles and responsibilities described in Task 2 (e.g., using school buses in evacuation). (6).  Propose potential case studies that describe how evacuation roles and responsibilities have been fulfilled in a range of states and situations, to include notice and no-notice events. Identify critical coordination issues as well as safety and security measures. Include a discussion of how roles and responsibilities are fluid and may shift over time (e.g., how pets and livestock are addressed in evacuation plans). Upon receipt of NCHRP approval, conduct the approved case studies. (7).
Phase 2
(9).  In accordance with the approved updated work plan, develop a draft Guide that (a) describes what is needed in a viable evacuation operations and management plan for DOTs and emergency management agencies; (b) provides examples of practical tools (e.g., resource lists and resource tracking software, checklists, job aids, detour maps) for carrying out responsibilities in evacuation operations; (c) describes options for monitoring the effectiveness of evacuation in real time and sharing that information with appropriate entities; (d) provides a series of questions for an after-action review of an evacuation that can feed into changes in the evacuation operations and management plan; and (e) includes a glossary. While DOTs are routinely charged with keeping roads open and monitoring transportation conditions, after they mobilize they may be tasked with other responsibilities such as (a) establishing and maintaining communications, (b) coordinating en-route fuel and maintenance for other agencies or the general public, and (c) tracking hotel room availability along evacuation routes. Such additional responsibilities should be addressed in the Guide. (10).  Submit a final report documenting the research results, including the Guide as a standalone product. A PowerPoint presentation provided with the final report shall be suitable, after revision, for use by panel members and others in describing the research and for posting on the NCHRP project website.
STATUS: Complete. Published as NCHRP Report 740: A Transportation Guide for All-Hazards Emergency EvacuationThe printed Guide includes a bound-in CD-ROM containing the Guide’s tools and appendices. The contractor’s final report, which documents the development of the Guide, has been published as NCHRP Web-Only Document 196. A PowerPoint presentation that describes the entire project is also available.

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