Why to Evacuate Rather than Shelter-in-Place

Torey Posts: 5,502 admin
edited July 2022 in Evacuations

TGN has a new blog article about evacuations and the top 5 reasons that people fail to evacuate when the order comes.

Evacuation orders are rarely given unless there is immediate or impending danger to life and safety. Most people should evacuate. The only people staying behind should be emergency responders and those that are working to evacuate people and livestock.

Check out the reasons that people give for not evacuating.

When an evacuation order comes, please follow all the instructions.

After locking up, don't forget to leave a note on your door, saying that all residents have been evacuated from the residence.


  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey Thank you and I just signed up for the webinar!

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    Listened to one of his previous webinars. Very worthwhile. Probably a good idea to do a refresher.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,911 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Evacuating should be an absolute last resort. Once you leave your home, you are essentially a refugee.

    However, the time may come when you really do need to leave. Be sure that your emergency planning covers both the case where you can stay and the case where you need to leave on short notice.

    If evacuation is necessary, getting out as early as possible helps. In 2005, huge numbers of people attempted to evacuate Houston, TX ahead of Hurricane Rita. The result was over a million people on the road at once, causing complete gridlock. It has been written, "Every conceivable evacuation route was clogged well past capacity." Thousands of people ran out of gas, causing many to stop and sleep along the highway. They were in more danger from the storm in their cars than they would have been at home.

    Think hard about the biggest threats in your area, and make plans accordingly, either to stay or go. And if you need to go, don't spend a couple of hours packing, or you be trapped in traffic. Have an escape kit prepared ahead of time.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,019 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In many areas leaving a note on the door saying everyone has evacuated is an invitation for the looting to start. During some fire evacuations a few years ago over half the homes in one particular neighborhood were burglarize. It stopped when a few folks got back in to check on things and refused to leave again. They started patrolling the neighborhood. Most of the area ended up being spared by the fires but many had several hundred and even thousands of dollars worth of items stolen or damaged by the thieves.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    I very much understand the desire to stay home and protect your property and belongings. I have been in this situation more than once. But you shouldn't wait until flames are licking at your home or the water is rising in the basement. You could become a refugee in your own home if people can't get in to bring you supplies or assist with rescue. I saw footage during Katrina where people were stranded and had to be picked off their rooftops. On the other hand, the evacuation process was pretty badly handled and I understand the fears of something like that happening again. It is very scary to leave and not know where you are going or what is going to happen.

    @VermontCathy has a very good point about leaving early if you are evacuating. We had a similar occurrence during the wildfire season of 2017. In one community, people knew an evacuation order was coming as they had started evacuating care facilities and the hospital two days earlier, but most waited until the order came and then it became a traffic nightmare, when thousands of people hit the road at the same time. Think about this now. What will you do and under what circumstances? Where will you go? Do you have two ways out in case one route becomes blocked? Pack an evac bag now and make a plan.

    There have been a lot of mistakes made by the officials in our province in some of our recent disasters and that has encouraged people in rural areas to stay behind to fight fires or sandbag properties. But usually, when a jurisdiction issues an evacuation order, it isn't done lightly and the majority of people should evacuate.

    I don't think it matters where you live, looters are going to take advantage of any opportunity during a disaster, whether or not you leave a note. The note is for responders so they don't have to waste time looking for people. In our province, due to looting that has occurred, security is now being hired to patrol areas that have been evacuated to prevent looting (not that is going to stop all of it).

    Our community has been in the unfortunate position to have a small group of small time criminals who aren't being dealt with appropriately by the court system. They get arrested but are out before days end. Then when they do go to court, they get probation or they get a stay of proceedings or it just gets dismissed for "lack of evidence" even if caught red handed. They don't seem to care if anyone is home or not. They entered one residence with the residents at home sleeping. Their exploits take place in broad daylight many times. They don't seem to be targeting any items in particular, just "looting" for whatever they can get. When one community member lost his temper and damaged one of the suspects vehicles, it was him that was arrested, not the suspect. And the vehicle had the guy's possessions inside! But the suspect wasn't charged!

    OK, that's enough of a rant about our inadequate justice system.