One of the key factors to any continuity of operations planning is communication. Unless residents understand where they need to evacuate, or which routes need to be taken, it can be more difficult for the entire process to run smoothly.
This example was proven in Colorado over the weekend, as one wildfire burned nearly 1,000 acres west of Fort Collins, near Lory State Park. According to the Associated Press, the blaze started on Friday, prompting 860 phone lines to receive automated calls ordering evacuations. However, with some homes having multiple lines, and other residents relying solely on cell phones, the exact number of houses in the evacuation area is unknown.
Strong winds caused the fire to abruptly change course, prompting deputies and state troopers to barricade a neighborhood that had previously not been officially evacuated.
"It's pretty ridiculous to shut things down and not let anyone know," Mark Martina, a resident who was going home to retrieve his dog when he encountered a road block, told reporters. "I'm not a complete idiot. I'm going to leave if it's coming close," he said.
Authorities said that they were allowing people brief visits to gather valuables, but Martina said that he was going to stay as long as it took. He told the news source he was going to field important items like birth certificates, guns and whatever else was needed.
Poudre Fire Authority Captain Patrick Love told the Los Angeles Times that it is not uncommon for wildfires of this magnitude to occur in March, or even January or February. With Colorado experiencing an intense drought, the arid conditions helped fuel the flames, he said. Love added that the fire was caused by human activity, but did not elaborate.
By Monday, Fox 21 News reported that the blaze was 75 percent under control.
When thorough and detailed directions are given during a continuity of operations plan, all parties will understand how to keep themselves and others safe.