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

Resources can be staged to assist during an evacuation incident. During the blackout of 2003 in the Great Lakes region, “half of the 400-truck emergency fleet of the Cleveland-area American Automobile Association was rendered inoperable by the blackout, their in-cab computers unable to receive the data necessary to route the trucks to stranded motorists. The availability of fuel was also an issue in Cleveland in the hours immediately following the blackout, both for private motorists and for public vehicles,” as reported in Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: August 2003 Northeast Blackout Great Lakes Region. Fuel needs may be an overlooked supply during an evacuation.

The State of Maryland has pre-outfitted trailers with equipment for rerouting traffic during emergencies that were useful during the I-95 tanker explosion. According to I-95 Shutdown: Coordinating Transportation and Emergency Response, “The traffic operations centers contacted nearby highway maintenance facilities and mobilized pre-outfitted trailers—each loaded with signage, cones, flares, generators, and other specialized equipment needed to reroute traffic at the scene—to the north and south sides of the incident.”

The State of Florida has witnessed numerous hurricanes over the years and has identified equipment and supplies that needed to be staged for evacuations. According to the State of Florida Regional Evacuation Procedure, “Implementation of a regional evacuation will require substantial personnel, equipment and supplies at various locations along the evacuation routes and at facilities designated as risk and host shelters: (1) programmable electronic public information signs/displays; (2) local/small area radio broadcast stations; (3) wreckers, tow trucks, and other heavy equipment for clearing roadways; (4) gasoline tankers for replenishing fuel supplies at gas stations on regional routes; (5) ambulances, medical personnel; (6) shelter management personnel and supplies; (7) buses for transport of evacuees without other means and (8) sampling/testing equipment and personnel.”

Governor Jeb Bush of Florida recognized the importance of having a secure fuel source as reported in the Orlando Sentinel article “Bush Offers Ways to Increase Gas Supply When Hurricanes Hit.” “The petroleum industry needs to keep more gasoline stored in Florida, and some gas stations should have generators so they can get running again as quickly as possible after a hurricane” Governor Jeb Bush said Tuesday. “Some [people] unnecessarily hoard gas for generators and sometimes evacuate when they don’t need to, contributing to difficulties for everyone else.”  Bush also said the state is exploring whether gasoline can be strategically placed before the storm just out of the danger area so it can be quickly delivered, much as ice and water are now.

Hurricane evacuations involve large numbers of people leaving their homes. Evacuees require services to assist them in their evacuation efforts. As reported in Reverse Lane Standards and ITS Strategies Southeast United States Hurricane Study: Technical Memorandum Number 1: Final Report, “During the Floyd evacuation, the availability of motorists’ services and access to restrooms were a problem in all three states, due to the extended travel times. The state needs to arrange with private operators to ensure fuel is available and restaurants are open during the critical evacuation period. The state needs to be responsible for keeping the rest areas open. In addition, the state needs to pre-arrange for the fueling of state vehicles during an evacuation. Low fuel was an issue, and Florida Department of Transportation had to rent a fuel tanker to refuel state vehicles and private vehicles that were stranded.”

In addition, the Coastal Heritage article “Floyd Follies: What We've Learned” reported: “At least 3.5 million people from four states—Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina—evacuated during Hurricane Floyd. It was the largest evacuation in US history. Lines of cars backed up for hundreds of miles on several interstates. Trips that would have taken two hours on a normal day took 16 or 18. Many evacuees could not find bathrooms, motel rooms, or shelters. Cars ran out of gas or broke down, littering highways and small roads.” Transit Infrastructure

Transit systems can assist following evacuations since transit agencies have infrastructure, personnel, and equipment that could prove to be useful. According to Saving City Lifelines: Lessons Learned in the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, “Crisis management planning normally views public transportation systems as targets or venues for terrorist attack. There is a tendency to overlook their critical role in the evacuation of urban areas threatened by or following terrorist attacks. Another overlooked role is that of assisting in rescue efforts. In increasingly service-oriented economies, however, transit systems may be the only entities with the specialized equipment and skills required for large-scale rescues.”

In addition, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City, Saving City Lifelines reported: “It is notable that [the] Metropolitan Transportation Authority has many assets that can help with rescue and recovery work, including truck cranes, hydraulic equipment, portable lights, emergency generators, dump trucks, and snow plows. [In addition,] New York’s transportation operators moved thousands of police officers and emergency personnel into the city by train and then ferried them by bus to Ground Zero, while the New York City Transit emergency operations center immediately began to assemble equipment and workers to assist in the rescue effort. Within two hours of the attack, only minutes after the collapse of the North Tower, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had mobilized a two-mile-long convoy of specialized heavy construction equipment and 3,500 employees to assist in rescue and debris removal. Also, New York City Transit ironworkers assisted the fire department by cutting steel to rescue victims, and workers from every New York City Transit division staffed bucket brigades to remove debris from the search and rescue areas. At one point, Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees comprised 60 percent of the rescue force, according to one official interviewed.”

February 7, 2006
Publication #FHWA–HOP-08-015