Transit evacuation planning for Mobile County, Alabama

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University of Alabama Libraries

The main objectives of this thesis research were to: (1) estimate the potential number of transit dependent individuals during a major hurricane event and (2) provide information describing how to effectively communicate with these individuals before, during and after an emergency evacuation. Mobile County was used as a case study. Mobile County is one of the two Alabama coastal counties exposed to the effects of hurricane storm surges, wind and rain. The amount of danger the residents face depends on the intensity of hurricanes, the locations of the individuals, and the amount of prior preparation and planning by emergency agencies. During these events special needs individuals are the primary endangered people since they require special assistance to evacuate and are not usually included in emergency evacuation plans. Since special needs populations are diversified, and mostly isolated, it is difficult to identify, locate and communicate emergency information with them. The study reviewed several reports and guidebooks published by federal and state emergency management agencies. This review was supplemented by contacting individuals working in the area of emergency management and evacuation of special needs populations. The study identified a variety of communication systems which can be applied in emergency information communication. The systems' limitations and strengths in serving the special needs individuals were assessed based on the literature. The number of potential transit dependent populations was estimated in three ways. Each method used a different dataset: (1) Census 2000, (2) 2006 American Community Survey and (3) Harvard Telephone Survey. There were several major findings for this part of the study: 1. There was a general correspondence between the three estimates, but it was not strong enough to make a statistical comparison. 2. The census data and American Community Survey data contain large standard errors, as much as ±30% at a 90th percentile confidence level. 3. The actual numbers of evacuees for previous categories 3 and 2 hurricane events near Mobile County were less than 11% of the average predicted levels. In summary, this study provided information to assist Mobile County prepare evacuation plans to deal with extreme events.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Civil engineering, Transportation