The purpose of a continuity of operations plan is to keep residents of a city or town safe. When more people understand their role in an emergency, they can better keep themselves out of harm's way and not interfere with first responders.
Hurricane Sandy is one example of when New York City tried to implement such evacuation orders. However, The Associated Press reported that state officials released updated plans last Friday, which are designed to be more detailed and more effective for future emergencies.
Part of the new plans include more ways of announcing evacuation orders, such as implementing digital billboards. Additionally, the city is expanding its evacuation zones and creating more of them in order to create better plans that account for individual storm dynamics.
Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway said at a briefing that the main reasoning behind the updated evacuation plans is to only dislocate residents when it is necessary, keep them informed and ensure they remain calm. After Hurricane Sandy, officials saw that not enough New Yorkers took the evacuation orders seriously.
The Associated Press cited some the report's findings, including that a survey of 509 Zone A residents – New Yorkers who live in the area of the city most vulnerable to storms – found that 63 percent stayed home. While three-quarters of those individuals said they received evacuation orders, they remained for various reasons.
"People need to believe, first of all, what you're telling them: that the situation is serious," Holloway said. "But people need to believe, also, that if they leave, there's somewhere for them to go that's safe and what they leave behind will be safe. And we're going to continue to push those messages."