On Wednesday (May 22) the City of New Orleans completed a partial drill of its citywide evacuation plan. The plan is meant to be an option of last resort for those residents who are unable to leave on their own during a mandatory evacuation in the event of a hurricane.
“It’s is important to remember that this plan is an option of last resort, but we do know our responsibility as a City in making sure that we can accommodate the needs of our people,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Priority will always be given as it relates to individuals who need evacuation assistance due to transportation, financial, and/or medical needs.
The exercise was led by the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) and tested air evacuation logistics. This part of the larger plan uses air and bus travel to evacuate around 35,000 to 50,000 residents to shelters located throughout Louisiana and neighboring states.
More than 50 Evacuteer volunteers also participated in the drill, with some role-playing evacuees while others practiced the ticketing process that they will be responsible for in the event of a real-life evacuation.
“I am so grateful for all of the volunteers who showed up to participate in today’s evacuation exercise, especially our community partners with Job Corps and Limitless Vistas, Inc.,” Evacuteer Executive Director Jillian Sandoval said. “We know that it will take the effort of hundreds of Evacuteer volunteers to help our neighbors get to safety during a mandatory evacuation, and we hope that today’s experience will encourage more people to get involved in our mission.”
Other agencies involved in the evacuation included:
- Department of Children and Family Services
- Department of Defense
- Federal Aviation Administration
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Gov. Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
- Jefferson Parish Emergency Management
- Louis Armstrong Airport
- Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
- Lousiana National Guard
- Transportation Security Administration
In the future, the Smoothie King Center will act as the processing site in the event of a citywide evacuation plan. According to city officials, this should nearly quadruple the number of residents that can be evacuated at one time. The Smoothie King Center is also a better option for those with special medical or mobility needs compared to the former processing site at the Union Passenger Terminal.
According to NOHSEP Director Collin Arnold, “Although this evacuation plan is an option of last resort, we know that many of our most vulnerable residents have no other way of getting out ahead of a storm. The success of today’s exercise and the addition of the Smoothie King Center as a processing site are clear indications that the City of New Orleans is ready should a major storm come our way.”
The 17 “evacuspots” located throughout the city have not changed; each is marked with a 14-foot metal statue. During a citywide evacuation, residents who need to use the program should proceed to their nearest evacuspot to catch a Regional Transit Authority bus to the Smoothie King Center.
New Orleans Regional Transit Authority Director Jared Munster said, “The RTA is committed to the safety of the community, our employees, and protecting our transportation system. In the event of a City-Assisted Evacuation, we will activate our hurricane plan and stand ready to provide transportation to the Smoothie King Center from 17 designated evacuspots, as well as assisting home-bound individuals in getting from their residences to the Smoothie King Center.”
If you are unable to make it to an evacuspot on your own due to a medical condition or disability, you can sign up for the City’s Special Needs Registry by calling 3-1-1 or at the specialneeds.nola.gov website.
- Arthur Monday Center, 1111 Newton Ave.
- Central City Senior Center, 2101 Philip St.
- Kingsley House, 1600 Constance St.
- Mater Dolorosa, 1226 S. Carrollton Ave.
- Sanchez Center, 1616 Caffin Ave. (also serves as general population)
General Population Evacuspots
- Dryades YMCA, 1924 Philip St.
- East New Orleans Library, 5641 Read Blvd.
- Harriet Tubman Charter School, 2832 General Meyer
- Louis Armstrong Park, 801 N. Rampart St.
- Lyons Center, 624 Louisiana Ave.
- Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, 14001 Dwyer Blvd.
- McMain High School, 5712 S. Claiborne Ave.
- Palmer Park, S. Claiborne & S. Carrollton
- Smith Library, 6300 Canal Blvd.
- Stallings Center, 4300 St. Claude Ave.
- Walmart, 4301 Chef Menteur Hwy.
- Warren Easton High School, 3019 Canal St.
Residents are also encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts by texting their zip code to 888777 or visiting ready.nola.gov/hurricane