With hurricane season underway there is a sharp reminder that coastal residents could be forced to evacuate if a hurricane strikes.
Research is being done at Clemson University on evacuations. Researcher Pamela Murray-Tuite told South Carolina Radio Network that the strain on the transportation system and the decisions that must be made as the storms churn toward the coast are central to the research. “Trying to figure out the factors that influence peoples’ decision to evacuate. And trying to estimate how many are going to evacuate.”
Murray-Tuite, an associate professor of civil engineering, is part of a nationwide team that tries to predict how many people will evacuate, when they will leave and how they will get to where they are going. The goal is to help smooth evacuations and ultimately save lives.
She said a miscalculation can leave evacuees stranded in traffic for hours or stuck in the storm’s path as the winds start. “Match up with the timeline of the approaching event, the hurricane, so that decision-makers can know how far in advance that they have to issue an evacuation order.”
The potential danger will be especially pointed this year, coming just months after the most expensive hurricane season in history. Harvey, Irma, and Maria cost $265 billion, caused hundreds of deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents.
Murray-Tuite will be headed to one of the hardest-hit areas, Dominica, over the next few months to learn more. And she has co-written a book coming out soon, “Large-Scale Evacuation: The Analysis, Modeling, and Management of Emergency Relocation from Hazardous Areas.”