No town ever wants to experience a mass evacuation, but it is important to have an up-to-date and comprehensive continuity of operations plan in place. That way, panic can be avoided and all residents and emergency officials will understand their role and be able to work together.
Charlotte, North Carolina is reworking its current evacuation plan, as the latest is from 2006. According to a WSOC news story, emergency workers are altering the routes to account for road changes and new buildings uptown. Additionally, communication options are being adjusted to include cell phones as a way to reach people.
"We're trying to make it intuitively the way people use phones and devices now the same way this is just showing you your evacuation routes," Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Dulin told the news source.
Counting individuals who work in uptown Charlotte, and residents, there could be close to 100,000 people spilling onto the streets during an emergency evacuation.
Currently, the standard, blue evacuation route signs are in place. However, officials told the news source that messages will soon be flashed on the light rail signs and a mobile application will be created for iPhone and Android that shows you where you are and the quickest way to get outside the Interstate 277 loop.
Emergency officials did add though, that during a widespread evacuation, communication systems could be one of the first technologies to go out, which is why residents should know their plan ahead of time.
When conducting continuity of operations planning, working with a professional consultant can be beneficial. That way, town officials will create hot sites in ideal locations and work toward implementing strong tabletop exercises, which will keep residents fully educated.