Statewide Regional Evacuation Study 2020 Update

DATE: 2020

2020 Statewide Regional Evacuation Study Update

In 2006, the Florida Legislature acted in response to the devastating hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 by passing House Bills 1359 and 7121 redefining the Coastal High Hazard Area (CHHA) from the Category 1 Evacuation Zone to the Category 1 Storm Surge Zone as a means of balancing coastal protection with development and focusing on the need to improve the State’s disaster response infrastructure for the purposes of effective planning and preparedness.

In further support of these measures, the legislature appropriated $29 million to enhance evacuation planning and preparedness statewide. The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) contracted with the Regional Planning Councils (RPCs) to develop the Statewide Regional Evacuation Study (SRES) initiative to produce an integrated multi-regional statewide evacuation dynamic using a single methodology. In 2010, Council completed the Treasure Coast SRES covering Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties, and providing local emergency management officials with current, quantifiable data on local and regional community characteristics, hazards and vulnerabilities, and transportation network data to enable them to make effective qualitative decisions related to evacuation directives. Data and evacuation scenarios were modeled to produce county evacuation clearance times that estimated the time it takes for populations to reach shelters, and in- and out- of county, region, and state destinations. In the years following the initial release of the Study, population and demographic data updates were undertaken in 2013, and in 2016, and the Storm Surge Atlas volumes were created that included a Directional Atlas volume that modeled multi-directional approaches of storms for the Treasure Coast region.

In 2020, the Florida legislature appropriated $1.2 million, and the FDEM dedicated an additional $500,000, to fund the Statewide Regional Evacuation Study Program Update. To maintain consistency and accuracy of the statewide methodology, the FDEM contracted with the Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC) to serve as the project lead for statewide coordination and contract administration, partnering with the nine (9) other RPCs through interagency agreements to conduct Study updates within their respective regions. The update included a new cellular phone data-based Behavioral Analysis of expected evacuation choices based on various storm strength and landfall scenarios. This Study was updated and delivered as a planning tool to help emergency managers to engage in evacuation orders with current and comprehensive data to reduce injury and impact to populations and maintain a educated state of readiness for Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties in the Treasure Coast Region.

The Study update utilized the TIME software model that generates county, regional, and Statewide roadway clearance times, numbers of people and vehicles moving on the roadway network and anticipated final destinations prior and post storm landfall. Specific components that affect evacuation include behavioral, transportation, and shelter analyses, and population and demographic data were incorporated to produce updated evacuation clearance times and other information essential to emergency planning and provide a more accurate picture of population movement to destinations from region to region, and within counties to friends and family and shelters during evacuations.  Throughout the update process, input was gathered from local emergency management officials and stakeholders throughout the region. Data were collected, analyzed, and incorporated into the TIME software to model new evacuation clearance times and associated data tables that describe vulnerable populations and their destinations and show a summary of evacuation results. In addition, data was coordinated with adjacent Regions (Central, East Central, and South Florida RPCs) to provide a contiguous map of roadways entering and exiting the region.

Ms. Kathryn Boer, Director of Emergency Programs, TCRPC served as the project manager and delivered updated project results to the region in June 2021. This Study was delivered as a planning tool to help emergency managers to engage in evacuation orders with current and comprehensive data to reduce injury and impact to populations and maintain an educated state of readiness for each county in the Region.

Local governments and emergency managers communities can access Study data by the Florida Division of Emergency Management web portal at