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

3. Experiences and Recommendations

During the interview and survey, interviewees were asked to discuss their experiences and/or recommendations with respect to evacuation. In addition to direct responses from interviewees, lessons learned and recommendations for best practices for evacuation management were gleaned indirectly from answers to the other questions in the survey.

This chapter presents lessons learned and recommendations for best practices for evacuation management.

3.1 Lessons Learned

  • Risk management is a key component of emergency evacuation planning and execution. Individuals need to realize that, in the event of an actual emergency evacuation, they will be required to make very critical decisions on the spot without the advice of supervisors or peers.

  • It is difficult for transportation agencies to develop evacuation plans if there is only enough budget to conduct essential traffic operations work.

  • Evacuation is not always the best choice; at times, it is not even feasible. Evacuation routing becomes very difficult if the transportation network is damaged during an event. Hence, sufficient planning for shelter-in-place is needed to complement evacuation planning.

  • Implementing contraflow in the hopes of increasing roadway capacity is a tough decision to make because it will typically take at least a half day to set up contraflow operations.

  • Agencies need to be aware that “letting their guard down” because an event has not occurred for some time can be costly.

  • Regularly scheduled meetings among key transportation agencies throughout the region are very helpful for keeping up-to-date changes to various evacuation plans, among other things.

  • Frequent emergency evacuation operations drills are very helpful for preparing for “the real thing.”

  • Typically, the actual event is worse than anything that can be planned for.

  • Some of the transit agencies involved in this project indicated that they are consistently left out of the loop when it comes to changes to the evacuation plan as well as major training. Essentially, these agencies are told that in the event of a disaster, they should wait for further instruction from an unknown source.

June 26, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-016