Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies


Booz Allen Hamilton recently prepared a literature search for the Federal Highway Administration for the Assessment of the State of the Practice and State of the Art in Evacuation Transportation Management project.

In the course of our literature search, Booz Allen found no definitive articles or publications that addressed no-notice evacuations. Much of what is known about evacuations is based on experience gained preparing for incidents—such as hurricanes—when there is advance warning.

Information has been written regarding the 9/11 terrorist acts in New York City and Washington, DC; the blackouts of New York City and Detroit, Michigan; the firestorms of British Columbia, Canada; the Southern California wildfires; the Northridge earthquake; the I-95 tanker explosion; and the Howard Street rail tunnel fire in Baltimore, Maryland. However, the focus of this information was not necessarily on evacuations.

From reports and numerous other articles and publications, the literature search attempted to assess what is known about transportation management during evacuations associated with no-notice situations.

The next step in the project is the delivery of case studies regarding no-notice evacuations from a transportation point of view. Four possible candidates identified included the:

  • El Dorado, Arkansas, hazardous-material fire
  • Graniteville, South Carolina, chlorine gas incident
  • South Salt Lake City, Utah, hazardous chemical leak from a tanker car
  • Southern California wildfires.

These case studies were identified for several reasons, including:

  • The Graniteville and El Dorado incidents both involved no-notice evacuations and have occurred recently with lessons to be learned still fresh in the mind of participants.
  • The El Dorado incident involved the evacuation of two nursing homes and a jail, thus providing information on the transportation of special needs evacuees.
  • The South Salt Lake City incident involved a large-scale no-notice evacuation of 3,000 people in a major urban area and involved a closure of the interstate system for a period of time.
  • The southern California wildfires have been previously studied, but not from a transportation perspective.

The intent of the case studies is to identify commonalities and unique distinctions among the cross-section of incidents to identify successes, lessons learned, and best practices to provide guidance to agencies in planning for and managing evacuations.

These case studies address not only the transportation aspects of an evacuation but also the necessary support from public safety and other public organizations with a role in managing evacuations.

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014