study (USDOT 2006), focused specifically on evacuation plans in the Gulf Coast region, painted a more optimistic picture, perhaps reflecting the recurring hazard—tropical storms—facing that region and recent evacuation experience. USDOT rated state and local emergency plans in the Gulf Coast region “effective” for highway evacuations, and most UA plans included transit and designated pickup points for carless evacuees. The plan assessment conducted for this study was focused specifically on the role of transit in emergency evacuation in the 33 non–case study UAs. The review found emergency response and evacuation plans for only 16 of the UAs; 11 of these mentioned transit (see Appendix C). However, only seven plans provided sufficient detail to lend credibility to the role of transit in emergency evacuation (see the discussion in Chapter 4).

Recommendation 1: Local emergency managers should focus greater attention on evacuation planning as an important element of overall emergency planning and should both determine and incorporate a role for transit and other public transportation providers in meeting evacuation needs.

While recognizing that transit plays a supporting role in emergency response, the committee believes it is the mutual responsibility of transit agencies, as well as emergency managers, to ensure that transit is included in evacuation plans.

Finding: Even among localities with evacuation plans, few have provided for a major disaster that could involve multiple jurisdictions or multiple states in a region and necessitate the evacuation of a large fraction of the population.

DHS’s Nationwide Plan Review noted significant weaknesses in evacuation planning as an area of profound concern (DHS 2006). Even in UAs with comprehensive local emergency response plans, regional evacuation plans are works in progress at best, reflecting the low probability of a major incident requiring a regional evacuation and the challenges of planning for large-scale emergencies that cross many jurisdictional and agency boundaries (see Box 5-1). Leadership is lacking at the regional level to conduct



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement