What Has America Learned Since Hurricane Katrina? Evaluating Evacuation Plans for Carless and Vulnerable Populations in 50 Large Cities Across the United States

This study reveals that only marginal improvements have occurred with respect to evacuation planning in America’s 50 largest cities, during the past decade since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. The hurricane revealed a lack of preparedness, specifically to evacuate carless and vulnerable populations. This paper analyzes the state of evacuation planning in America’s fifty largest cities in 2015/2016 and compares plans to those in the same cities a decade earlier. Findings include 17 major cities do not have evacuation plans, down from 24 cities in 2005/2006. Plans in 16 cities mention carless and vulnerable populations and 13 plans described, in-detail, plans for evacuating such populations. These metrics are up slightly from a decade earlier. The paper also presents an Evacuation Preparedness Rating System, which includes five dimensions, identified as best practices in evacuation planning for vulnerable populations. The dimensions examine each plan with regard to: 1. Special needs registries, 2. Specialized transportation plans for individuals with specific needs, 3. Pick-up location plan, 4. Multimodal evacuation plan, and 5. Pedestrian evacuation plan. The paper reports scores for each dimension and then presents a composite score for each city. This study lends support to the theory that cities do not develop strong evacuation plans, ones that accommodate the needs of all people, unless they have already experienced a major disaster or under a threat. While it is promising that more cities are developing evacuation plans, overall it remains disheartening that not every city was able to learn the lessons of not being prepared, especially for carless and vulnerable populations, as showcased to the nation during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ABR30 Standing Committee on Emergency Evacuations.
  • Authors:
    • Renne, John L
    • Mayorga, Estefania
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2018


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 13p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01662691
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 18-03079
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 16 2018 9:50AM