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Emergency Evacuation Report Card 2006: 25 Urban Areas Could Face Greater Challenges Than New Orleans Experienced After Hurricane Katrina

NCJ Number
Wendell Cox
Date Published
34 pages
This report is an initial evacuation capacity evaluation for the largest urban areas in the United States that compares evacuation capacity among urban areas in order to encourage consistent, quantitatively-based effective practices for evacuation planning.
The evaluation found considerable latitude for improving the evacuation capacity of the Nation’s urban areas. Such a program will be most effectively delivered through an objective evaluation system, which leads to effective measures to improve evacuation capacity. Recommendations to improve urban evacuation planning include: (1) establish a National Standards and Reporting System, (2) expand roadway capacity, (3) expand automobile access, and (4) complete comprehensive urban area evacuation operations planning. American urban areas face unprecedented threats that could require evacuation. Each of the Nation’s largest urban areas could fall victim to a terrorist attack. It has become clear, since the attack of September 11, 2001, that each urban area needs to be prepared to evacuate its citizens in the event of catastrophe. The Emergency Evacuation Report Card is an initial attempt to assess the evacuation capacity of the 37 largest urban areas, those with more than 1,000,000 populations. Since evacuation planning is new to the United States urban areas, evacuation capacity can be expected to fall short of optimal levels. The evaluation examined the areas of automobiles, evaluation method, exit capacity, internal traffic flow, automobile access, evacuation capacity index, influencing factors, and planning for the mass transit dependent. The analysis is based upon a requirement that the entire urban area be evacuated.