Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments
Washington State DOT (WSDOT) respondents reported that while Seattle has no evacuation plan, they maintain a well-developed Emergency Response Plan that addresses many areas critical to evacuating at-risk populations. Many of the plausible scenarios envisioned by Puget Sound planners are limited to smaller communities and groups of people so the thought of evacuating the whole city seems extremely remote. Nevertheless, they noted that the plans are regularly activated so they have significant experience in executing emergency operations. For example, in 2009, WSDOT coordinated and planned for evacuations in response to flooding risks in the Green River Valley. The WSDOT also worked with the State Emergency Management Division on evacuation planning along with local jurisdictions including Seattle and conducted a technical assistance visit to San Diego to discuss evacuation practices.
Authorities noted that they would rather have people stay put, given the threats endemic to the region. For example, if Mt. Rainier erupted violently and suddenly, Puget Sound authorities would direct people to higher ground and avoid putting thousands of people on the highway network that would be vulnerable to debris flows and flooding. Respondents expressed the view that for the type of threats they face, conducting mass evacuation operations would not be the first thing that they would want to do.
The Puget Sound Region recently received a Federal grant to address evacuation planning. The DHS/FEMA RCPGP provides catastrophic events planning grants to the 10 highest risk Urban Areas and surrounding regions. The objectives of the grant funding include: (1) addressing shortcomings in existing plans, (2) building regional planning processes and communities, and (3) linking operational and capabilities-based planning with resource allocation.
The Puget Sound Catastrophic Preparedness Planning Region constitutes an eight-county region that includes Island (city: Oak Harbor), King (cities: Bellevue, Kent, Renton, and Seattle), Kitsap (city: Bremerton), Mason (city: Shelton), Pierce (city: Tacoma), Skagit (city: Mount Vernon), Snohomish (city: Everett), and Thurston (city: Olympia) counties.
Top Highway Impediments
Top Highway Impediments
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration