FEMA Releases Protective Actions Guidance

hurricane floods covering a boatThe Federal Emergency Management Agency released the latest guidance on protective actions during natural disasters. According to the report, “evacuation and shelter-in-place have become more important to emergency management operations in previous years.” To address these developments, the document provides a tailored overview of evacuation and shelter-in-place operations by drawing from recent events and experiences.

The most recent examples of natural disasters, including flooding near the Oroville Dam, California, hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as California wildfires, suggest that the needs for evacuation do no follow an “all-or-nothing approach.” While the use of evacuation and shelter-in-place are common during most natural disaster events, incident-specific circumstances are essential when conducting emergency response operations. As such, the ability to tailor protective actions depending on a variety of factors is the primary challenge in responding to catastrophic events. The main points of consideration include community’s demographics, location, infrastructure, resources, authorities, and decision-making processes. 

The latest guidance expands upon the Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101: Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans by highlighting key considerations of evacuation and shelter-in-place operations. Of particular importance are updates on vulnerable populations, including children, domestic violence shelter residents, people with access and functional needs, as well as jails. In addition, the document includes a Command Job Aid tool offering clear guidance on jurisdiction, as well as the reminders of key actions when implementing protective actions. The primary objective of this tool is to streamline decision-making and to operationalize protective actions in a timely manner.

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