Summary of Federal Policy for Transportation of Hurricane Evacuees 

Current Federal policy regarding evacuation of the transportation dependent  population in the wake of hurricanes is focused around The Robert T. Stafford Disaster  Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) which was made law in 1988 as an  amendment to the Disaster Relief Act of 1974.  This Act “constitutes the statutory authority  for most Federal disaster response activities” (FEMA, 2009).  The Disaster Relief Act  appropriated financing to the Department of Homeland Security for the Stafford Act (Bea,  2005).  The Stafford Act authorized the President to declare major disaster areas and,  through Department of Homeland Security, to administer assistance to state and local  governments.   Under the Stafford act, grants are to be made to states and localities for the  purpose of establishing “programs for the development and maintenance of mass  evacuation plans” (FEMA, 2007, p. 107).    The Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (Post Katrina Act) of 2006  amends both the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Stafford Act to clarify the roles of  the federal government agencies in emergency management.   Specifically, the federal  government is mandated to  “partner with State and local governments…to build a national  system of emergency management that can effectively and efficient utilize the full measure  of the Nation’s resources to respond to a catastrophic incident” ("Post Katrina Act," 2006,  Sec 512).  The act requires the federal government provide assistance with the preparation  of hurricane evacuation studies and requires the FEMA administrator to “establish a plan  and schedule for completing, maintaining and periodically updating evacuation studies…to  ensure that States and local governments have complete information available to them for  the preparation of their own evacuation plans” ("Post Katrina Act," 2006, Sec 535).  The Act 


specifically requires that each State include in its evacuation plan “detailed and  comprehensive pre‐disaster and post‐disaster plans for individuals with special  needs…[and] those unable to evacuate themselves…” ("Post Katrina Act," 2006, Sec 221).   There is a specific emphasis on the States’ responsibility to develop a plan to evacuate all  persons, including those who need additional assistance.  The Post Katrina Act requires the National Response Plan (NRP) to incorporate  “lessons learned from the 2006 hurricane season” (National Response Framework, 2008, p.  2).   But the analysis of the 2006 NRP criticized the plan for being too focused on the  national issues at the expense of the local and State governments.  As a result, the Plan was  revised and renamed as the National Response Framework (NRF) with the intent to  “commit the Federal Government, in partnership with local, tribal, and State governments  and the private sector, to complete both strategic and operational plans” (National  Response Framework, 2008, p. 3). Integral to the NRF is the emphasis on the coordinating  and assistance role of the Federal government.   The Federal government’s role is explicitly  described as follows: “When an incident occurs that exceed or is anticipated to exceed  State, tribal or local resources, the Federal Government may provide resources and  capabilities to support the State response” (National Response Framework, 2008, p. 6).  The  NRF clearly requires the State Governor to request assistance from the Federal government  except in two types of extenuating circumstances. The NRF makes it clear that “all levels [of  government] have a responsibility to develop…response plans”, but acknowledges it is the  responsibility of the Federal government to facilitate interagency and intergovernmental  plans (National Response Framework, 2008, p. 28). The NRF delegates responsibility to  States and local governments for the development of “detailed, robust, all‐hazard 


plans…with supporting procedures and protocols to address their locally identified hazards  and risks” (National Response Framework, 2008, p. 74).  In addition to requiring the States  and localities to include plans for persons with special needs and those who cannot  evacuate themselves, the NRF introduces the element of household pets.    The NRF is not complete in itself, but incorporates Emergency Support Function  Annexes which groups federal resources into functional response groups as well as support  annexes, incident annexes and partner guides.  The Mass Evacuation Incident (MEI) Annex  to the NRF gives specific instructions and guidelines to all levels of government for the  planning and execution of evacuation of large numbers of people.  The MEI Annex  specifically ensures that “federal agencies will coordinate their actions with State, local and  tribal governments” and emphasized the supporting role of the Federal government  (National Response Framework: Mass Evacuation Incident Annex, 2008, p. 2).  The MEI  Annex requires States and local governments to consider the needs of all persons in the  evacuation plans, including those with household pets.  The Annex specifically notes “that  individuals may choose to not evacuate if directed to leave their animal(s) behind” and  therefore requires evacuation plans to include plans for pets (National Response  Framework: Mass Evacuation Incident Annex, 2008, p. 3).   The Annex provides further  details of the Federal responsibilities, including the oversight of aerial evacuations and the  coordination of fuel for the evacuation.  The Annex also suggests the use of transit agencies  and school district buses for transportation of evacuees, but emphasizes this is at State and  local responsibility (National Response Framework: Mass Evacuation Incident Annex, 2008,  p. 12). 


The overall theme of federal policy regarding evacuation of the transportation  dependent in the wake of a hurricane is that the localities and states are primarily  responsible for such evacuation.  The policies set standards and guidelines for creating  evacuation plans and even provide grant funding for development of such plans, but do not  specifically include a plan.  The federal policies indicate that the federal government should  be called upon to assist in evacuation when it becomes clear at the local and state resources  will be insufficient.  Even in this circumstance, the federal government’s plan is to work  with the local governments to assist in implementing the local plan.  The federal  government’s is presented in a supporting and oversight role, not an active participant in  the planning process. 

  Summary of State Law 
Louisiana    Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993, 

amended in 2003, was created “to ensure that preparation of this state will be adequate to  deal with” emergencies such as hurricanes ("LA HSEADA," 1993, sec 722).  Under this law  the governor is authorized to issue executive orders to meet the stated goals, including the  enumerated power “to prepare for prompt and efficient evacuation” of those threatened by  a hurricane ("LA HSEADA," 1993, sec 722).  This law also created the Louisiana Governor’s  Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) as well as local  branches of this new office.  These offices are also given the specific power to “direct and  compel the evacuation of all or part of the population” ("LA HSEADA," 1993, sec 724).  This  includes the evacuation of those without cars, tourists, special needs citizens and citizens    4 

with household pets (specifically defined to exclude exotic and wild animals).  The Act  specifically mandates plans be in place to evacuate citizens that include the use of “school  and municipal buses, government‐owned vehicles, vehicles provided by volunteer agencies,  trains, and ships” ("LA HSEADA," 1993, sec 726).  Also included in this act is the  recommendation for a study to be conducted to determine the feasibility of contracting for  these required evacuation services before the emergency occurs.    In August of 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued Executive Order BJ‐08‐

32 in order to update previous orders and establish the Louisiana Emergency Operations  Plan.  This plan specifically lists the roles of the state agencies in the event of an emergency,  mirroring the division made at the federal level under the National Response Framework.   Each of these primary departments is required under this Order to submit procedures and  annual updates of these procedures to the director of the GOHSEP describing how the  designated responsibility will be implemented.    In compliance with 44 CRF 206.207 (4), the Louisiana Governor’s Office of 

Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness created an annual Administrative Plan  for Public Assistance identifying “and providing guidance and procedures in the event of a  natural disaster” as well as delineating the responsibilities of state and local agencies in  such a disaster (GOHSEP, 2009a, p. 2009).  The plan mirrors the federal plans in its  requirement that the localities “respond to the best of its ability” before requesting  assistance from the State (GOHSEP, 2009a, p. 7).    In response to the executive order BJ‐08‐32, the Louisiana Emergency Operations 

Plan was established, included in which are the transportation provisions. It outlines Emergency Support Function 1, the transportation provision, as saying “ESF 1 provides transportation out of


a disaster area for people in need, and provides transportation essential to support emergency response in the event of a disaster” (GOHSEP, 2009b). This function allows the state to identify transportation needs and coordination of state-owned and private industry transportation for evacuation purposes. Transportation will be allocated according to risk, with those high-risk people being served first. While the Department of Transportation and Development has the responsibility of implementing this function, there are many supporting agencies that will help carry it out. These include the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana State Police, the state Department of Health and Hospitals, and more. If, during the course of the emergency, transportation needs exceed those resources available, the coordinator must report to GOHSEP so it can seek more resources from the federal government. Throughout this whole process, records must be kept of the transportation used in order to receive reimbursements (GOHSEP, 2009b). City of New Orleans The City of New Orleans, having experienced the result of poorly planned hurricane evacuation spent the next year (2006) developing “a strategic plan for the management and evacuation of citizens from New Orleans” ("City of New Orleans Website,"). This updated plan, called the City Assisted Evacuation Plan (CAEP) recognizes significance of including specific plans on how to evacuate the citizens with special needs and all those who “want to evacuate during an emergency, but lack the capability to self-evacuate” (OEP, 2006, p. 1). The plan does not yet include a detailed system for evacuating citizens with their pets, but indicates that petowners should bring the pet in a kennel and be prepared for further instruction on how the pet evacuation will occur. The CAEP is a plan to evacuate before the winds of a hurricane reach the city and require


the use of “air, rail and ground transportation to be fully effective” (OEP, 2006, p. 1). The plan places responsibility on the City to get all citizens who are identified before the hurricane to the registration and debarking centers. It then relies on the State of Louisiana to actually moving those persons to evacuation shelters in other locations. The plan includes a list of the federal and state agencies which have responsibilities during an evacuation. It also includes a list of nongovernmental partners who have agreed to assist in the evacuation process. These include local airports, transit authorities, the American Red Cross, the Louisiana Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Citizens Emergency Response Team, to name a few. The plan itself is pictured in Exhibits A and B shows how the movement of citizens will take place and map out where the evacuation centers will be located. The City of New Orleans has created a detailed plan that involves all the necessary parties as well as creates partnerships in order to facilitate an evacuation. The federal policies and state guidelines have been followed. Another aspect to the plan is the preparation of the citizens. The City has created a website in which citizens can not only find the detailed plans for evacuation and tips for personal preparedness, but has also created a registration site. This site allows the transportation dependent to register, ensuring that the city will know that they need assistance.    

Virginia  The Commonwealth of Virginia has an office to handle emergency evacuations called the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). According to the Code of Virginia (article 44), the governor, as the Director of Emergency Management, has the authority to authorize modes of transportation and routes in the event of an emergency (VDEM, 2008, p. 9).


Also in the Code is the mandate for VDEM to coordinate the assessments and preparedness plans with the localities. Explicitly stated in the Virginia code is that the localities must have an emergency plan in place in which responsibilities for all local agencies are made clear. In 2002, an executive order by then Governor Warner established the Secure Commonwealth Initiative in response to the attacks of September 11th, 2001. This Initiative is charged with ensuring that Virginia is prepared for disasters and for creating strategies of preparedness for the state and local entities, and specifically “to enhance catastrophic evacuation…planning” ("Secure Commonwealth Strategic Plan," 2009, p. 2). Part of this plan includes the objective of coordinating evacuation transportation to assist in getting citizens to shelters, which is to be undertaken by an evacuation working group. Every four years VDEM is required to present an updated version of the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (COVEOP). The COVEOP is structured similar to the National Response Framework in that it consists of a basic plan with annexes describing the specific types of incidents and the agency responsibilities. The Plan creates the Virginia Emergency Response Team (VERT) that in which “primary and support agencies coordinate with private sector to effectively share information…and…respond to” emergencies (VDEM, 2009a, p. 9). It is in the VERT that responsibility for evacuation rests, though the VDEM website describes this team as an adhoc team that assembles at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center at the time of an emergency and is made up of state and local officials.

Localities In compliance with the executive orders and Secure Commonwealth Initiative, localities have created hazard mitigation plans. Many regions have come together to create united plans.


The Southside Hampton Roads plan comprises the cities of Hampton Roads, Isle of Wright County, the City of Norfolk, the City of Portsmouth, the Town of Smithfield, the City of Suffolk and the City of Virginia Beach. These localities have formed a committee of local managers and have created the regional hazard mitigation plan, which is in draft form and dated 2006. This plan reviews historical patterns of disaster and predicts future disaster; it evaluates the population and land use of the region; and it lists the specific plans that have been developed by each locality. It does not actually detail an evacuation plan, but only lists the 5 localities that have created a plan. Overall the evacuation planning in the state of Virginia is behind the standards recommended by the Federal and even State policies and does not compare with the detailed plans implemented by the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana. If the State of Virginia and localities in the Hampton Roads area have specific plans for evacuation of the transportation dependent populations, they are not readily accessible to the public.


Exhibit A





 Exhibit B




REFERENCES    Bea, K. (2005). Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible  Activities, and Funding.  City of New Orleans Website.  Retrieved 28 October 2009, from‐46‐38‐emergency‐preparedness‐documents.aspx  FEMA (2007). Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act as amended  and Related Authorities.  FEMA (2009, Friday, 29‐May‐2009). Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency  Assistance Act (Public Law 93‐288) as amended Retrieved October 3, 2009, from  GOHSEP (2009a). State of Louisiana Administrative Plan for Public Assistance. Baton  Rouge, LA: Louisiana's Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency  Preparedness.  GOHSEP (2009b). State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan. Baton Rouge, LA:  Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.  National Response Framework (2008). Washington DC: Department of Homeland Security.  National Response Framework: Mass Evacuation Incident Annex (2008). Washington DC:  Department of Homeland Security.  OEP (2006). The New Orleans City Assisted Evacuation Plan. New Orleans, LA: Office of  Emergency Preparedness.  Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006(2006).  Secure Commonwealth Strategic Plan (2009). Secure Commonwealth Initiative.  The Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act(1993).  VDEM (2008). Virginia Emergency Services and Disaster Laws. Richmond, VA: Virginia  Department of Emergency Management.  VDEM (2009a). Emergency Operations Plan: Basic Plan (Vol. V, Incident Annex 3).  Richmond, VA: Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  VDEM (2009b). Emergency Operations Plan: Hurricane Response Plan (Vol. V, Incident  Annex 3). Richmond, VA: Virginia Department of Emergency Management.     



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