When a hurricane heads into New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana, the biggest question for many is whether they should stay or evacuate.
If the officials ask to leave, you need to leave.
Related: Twister Guide for Beginners
Mandatory evacuation means that all residents and visitors must leave. Voluntary evacuation means that you can leave, but it is not required.
Another term is “shelter in place”. This is when you stay at home or another safe facility and get out of the storm. You should have supplies with you and stay out of the ways in this case.
Evacuation or shelter in place?
If a compulsory eviction is not ordered, it is up to you to decide to evict or provide shelter.
These are the main factors you should weigh:
- Storm threats, including strong winds and potential for flooding
- Your personal situation, including your location and your family’s health
- Evacuation capacity
- Power outages that could last for days
- lack of public services
- Adequate supplies
If you live in a trailer or motorhome, the authorities highly recommend evacuating due to any storm.
Many residents will stay in a traditional tropical storm building and leave for storms no lower than Category 2 or 3, but again, every storm is different. Be aware of the weather during hurricane season.
Hurricanes do not appear overnight and you usually have at least 48 hours’ notice. But, paths of change and storms can intensify quickly, so be prepared to move quickly or go deeper if forecasts change unexpectedly.
If you choose to stay, old-timers say to keep an ax in the attic, just in case an unexpected flood calls for an emergency escape from your home. Here’s a city guide for other must-haves if you choose to shelter in place.
Questions to ask yourself
Do you have transportationA place to go, money for eviction expenses? Sometimes getting out of town is easier than dealing with the fallout from a storm if you have the means. The city offers free assistance with some evacuations. Text EVACNOLA to 77295 if you may need to use a city assisted evacuation.
Before the storm, you should mark several destinations in different directions. Evacuation destinations can include a friend or relative’s home, public shelter, or hotels. Several search tools are available to find pet friendly hotels if needed.
Here’s a handy site to walk you through the process of creating a contingency plan.
Do you have medical conditions Or a life situation (eg: young children) that makes it difficult to live without air conditioning in the summer heat?
Storms often cut power for several days. Some people own generators, but many require gas that may or may not be available. If you or your loved ones can’t stand an extended power outage, consider leaving.
Is your house overflowing? During a regular thunderstorm? Storms often drop several inches of rain and cause flooding.
Do you have supplies To last at least a week? When storms hit, trees often fall, and roads are closed. Stores are closed and gas lines are long. Now prepare for storms by collecting non-perishable food, water, lamps, power supplies, important paperwork, etc.
Related Topics: Over 60 Non-Perishable Food Items to Consider
If you evacuateTell your family and friends where you’re going. Posting on social media also helps so people can check your status there instead of draining your phone battery by calling and texting you.
And the Be patient. Traffic is heavier when there is a threat of a storm, and New Orleans officials say you should estimate that it will take at least four times longer than usual to reach your destination.
Do before leaving
If you live in a trailer or motorhome, evacuate due to any storm, authorities say. before you leave:
- Close the fuel lines, but do not disconnect them.
- Shut off the water from where it enters your home.
- Use “over the top” and “frame” ties to secure your home.
Everyone, including those living in mobile homes, should do the following before eviction:
- Check with your elderly relatives and neighbors and see if anyone needs a ride or supplies.
- Take your animals with you or find someone who can temporarily evacuate or care for them. Plan ahead for larger animals such as horses and cattle.
- Collect the items you need. See suggestions below.
- Remove debris from gutters and drainpipes.
- Bringing outdoor furniture and decorations indoors.
- Secure or bring litter boxes indoors.
- Make sandbags and place them if necessary.
- Lock all doors and windows.
- Empty the fridge and freezer or put everything in large trash bags for easier cleaning.
- Unplug household appliances in case of high current.
- Move the property to your highest floor.
- Photographing your property for insurance purposes.
- Cover your windows with plywood or storm shutters.
- Insurance of boats and recreational vehicles.
- Turn off the electricity, water, and propane gas. Leave the natural gas on, unless instructed to turn it off.
- Leave a key with a neighbor or resident friend so they can access your home if necessary.
Packing list for evacuation
This is a suggested packing list from New Orleans emergency officials and LSU AgCenter experts:
- Clothes. If you are in a hurry, it is a professional advice to take your clothes basket with your soiled clothes and wash them at your destination.
- Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and toiletries
- Masks, face sanitizers and disinfectant wipes
- Cash, credit cards, check book, etc.
- List of emergency contacts, including numbers of doctors and veterinarians
- Medicines, copy of medical records and prescriptions
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Documents proving your place of residence
- Wills, deeds, titles, etc.
- insurance policies
- Pet supplies, including proof of vaccination and a leash or travel box
- Things to do, especially for kids
- Roadside emergency kit, with printed map. Cellular service is often limited and phone navigation may be intermittent.
- Food and water for the trip as services may be limited for several hours while driving.
- Important electronic devices, such as a laptop or tablet
- A list of your usernames and passwords
- More suggestions from LSU AgCenter
over here Suggested items for children From LSU AgCenter:
- Many favorite books
- crayons and paper
- kids puzzles
- Board games for kids (checkers, dominoes, etc.)
- Card games (Go Fish, Old Maid, Uno, etc.)
- Two favorite mini-toys, such as a doll or anthropomorphic figure
- dear stuffed animal
- A precious blanket and/or pillow
- portable electronic games
- Family and pet photos
- Other special items that will comfort children
Here are more tips for evacuating with children.
Evacuating before a hurricane strikes with children can add another layer of difficulty to an already difficult situation. Here are some tips from…
Writer Mark Schleifstein contributed to this story.
Sources: Times-Picayune Archive, National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service, NOAA and NOLA Ready.