What is an Evacuation?

An evacuation is the organized and coordinated process of relocating people from an area of immediate danger or potential harm to a safer location. Evacuations are typically ordered in response to various emergency situations, including:

  1. Natural Disasters: Evacuations may be necessary in the face of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other severe weather events.

  2. Man-Made Disasters: Events such as chemical spills, industrial accidents, and infrastructure failures can necessitate evacuations.

  3. Public Health Emergencies: During pandemics, disease outbreaks, or bioterrorism threats, evacuations can help prevent the spread of illness.

  4. Security Threats: In situations involving terrorism, civil unrest, or active shooter incidents, evacuations can protect people from immediate danger.

Why Are Evacuations Necessary?

Evacuations are ordered for several important reasons:

  1. Protection from Immediate Threats: The primary goal is to safeguard lives by moving people away from imminent danger, such as rising floodwaters, wildfires, or hazardous materials releases.

  2. Minimizing Casualties: Evacuations help reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities that may occur if individuals remain in harm's way.

  3. Resource Allocation: By relocating residents, resources and emergency responders can focus on managing the crisis rather than conducting rescues or providing immediate aid.

  4. Ensuring Order: Evacuations help maintain order and prevent chaos in the affected area.

How to Prepare for an Evacuation:

  1. Stay Informed: Learn what types of disasters are likely in your community. Keep an eye on weather alerts, emergency broadcasts, and official notifications to stay informed about potential evacuation orders. 

  2. Have a Kit: Prepare an emergency kit with essential supplies, including food, water, medications, important documents, and clothing.

  3. Create a Plan: Develop a family evacuation plan, establish communication channels, and decide on a meeting point in case family members become separated. Know where you will go if you have to evacuate and know how you will care for your pets. 

  4. Know Evacuation Routes: Familiarize yourself with local evacuation routes and have alternative routes in case the primary ones are blocked.

  5. Fuel and Transportation: Ensure your vehicle is in good working condition and has a full tank of fuel if you plan to evacuate by car.

What to Do During an Evacuation:

  1. Follow Orders: If authorities issue an evacuation order, heed it promptly and without hesitation.

  2. Gather Essentials: Grab your emergency kit, important documents, and any essential items before leaving. Take your pets with you but understand that only service animals may be allowed in public shelters .Animal Disaster Services and LASER will be activated during an evacuation.

  3. Stay Informed: Listen to local news and official channels for updates and additional instructions.

  4. Follow Designated Routes: Stick to the designated routes Public Safety Officials advise you to take. Be alert of road hazards.

  5. Help Others: Assist elderly neighbors, individuals with disabilities, and those who may need extra support during evacuations.

  6. Stay Calm: Keep calm and drive or move carefully to your evacuation destination, following all traffic rules and instructions.

After an Evacuation

  1. Wait for Official Clearance: Before returning to your home or the evacuated area, wait for official clearance from local authorities. They will assess the safety of the area and provide instructions for re-entry.
  2. Stay Informed: Continue to monitor local news and official channels for updates and information regarding the situation, road conditions, and any ongoing hazards.

  3. Contact Loved Ones: Notify family and friends of your whereabouts and safety. If you evacuated separately, make plans for reuniting.

  4. Assess Your Home: When allowed to return, carefully assess the condition of your home. Check for any damage, structural issues, or safety hazards before entering.

  5. Utilities: Ensure that gas, electricity, and water are turned off if they were shut off during the evacuation. Do not turn them back on until it's deemed safe to do so by utility companies or local authorities.

  6. Inspect for Hazards: Look for any signs of hazardous materials or spills in your area, and report them to the appropriate authorities if necessary.

  7. Boil Water Advisories: If a boil water advisory is in effect, follow the guidance provided to ensure the safety of your drinking water.

  8. Health and Safety: Be cautious of potential health risks. Dispose of spoiled food, check for gas leaks, and be mindful of any contaminated areas.

  9. Contact Insurance: If you have insurance coverage for your property, contact your insurance company to initiate the claims process if your property was damaged during the emergency.

  10. Seek Medical Attention: If you or family members have been injured or have health concerns as a result of the emergency, seek medical attention promptly.

  11. Emotional Well-being: Experiencing an evacuation can be stressful. Consider seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals to help cope with the emotional impact.

  12. Reestablish Services: Contact utility companies to have services restored, if necessary. It's also essential to reestablish essential services such as mail delivery and garbage collection.

  13. Community Resources: Utilize local community resources, such as disaster recovery centers, for assistance with recovery efforts, including obtaining information on financial assistance or rebuilding resources.

  14. Prepare for Future Emergencies: Take this opportunity to review and update your emergency preparedness plans and supplies. Learn from the experience to be better prepared for future emergencies.

  15. Offer Assistance: If you are in a position to do so, consider offering assistance to neighbors or community members who may need help with recovery efforts.