If you and your family had to evacuate, where would you go? Part of the answer also depends on the situation, needs of the family members and type of disaster.
Shelter in place or leave? There are many factors should help determine where there is a real need to evacuate, or whether the family unit can shelter in place.
Lets take the example of a hurricane. In September of 2008 Hurricane Ike made landfall in the Galveston, Texas area. The storm surge 100 miles to the east drove 10 feet of water 20 miles inland. The only cities there were protected from the surge were the ones that had a barrier built around them.
One of the things that saved Groves, Texas from flooding was the barrier around Port Arthur. Bridge City on the other hand received several feet of water. Out of the hundreds of houses in Bridge city, only around a dozen did not receive some kind of damage from flood waters.
Even though Hurricane Ike made landfall 100 miles to the west of the Beaumont, Bridge City, Port Arthur and Orange area, if a family lived just above sea level there was a real need to evacuate.
Sometimes an evacuation means just moving to higher ground, sometimes it means leaving to area and traveling over 100 miles. But anytime a family unit leaves their house, there is the question of where are they going to go?
Hotels: It is very common for all hotel rooms to be taken for hundreds of miles in any given direction. Because thousands of people will be looking for a hotel room at the same time as you, getting one will be pure luck. The expense of staying in a hotel room could deplete the units money reserves very quickly.
Friend or family members house: This should be the first consideration for a unit that is having to evacuate. Plans should already be in place, discussed and agreed on before hand. That means making plans right now. It going to be much easier staying at someones house that the family already knows, as compared to staying at a shelter.
Shelters: Nobody likes staying at a high school gym, or sleeping in the same room with hundreds of other people. But it is an option.
Hunting Lease: Sometimes hunting leases will have some kind of shelter or building on it. Depending on the rules of the lease, members can stay in those building.
Camp Grounds: For those people that have an RV, or do not mind sleeping in a tent, camp grounds might be an option. A lot of camping areas have bathrooms, showers, fire pits for cooking, a lake to go fishing in,,,,,,,, Depending on the rules of the camp grounds, a family unit could stay there for a week and at little cost – as compared to a hotel.
Considerations: Any special health care needs should be taken in consideration. Does the unit have special needs children, or special needs adults? Do any of the members require oxygen, breathing machines, a full time nurse, special beds,,, the list goes on and on.
On a personal note – I used to live next a family that had a special needs child. The kid had to be connected to a breathing machine while the slept and was wheel chair bound. The father was a single parent raising 2 boys on his own. There was a nurse that came to the house every day monday – friday. The father did not work weekends, so on saturday and sunday, no nurse came to the house.
Because one of the sons required a breathing machine, the father had a 250 gallon propane tank and a generator that ran off propane. As soon as the power went out, a special switch turned the generator on. Having power to that breathing machine was a matter of life or death for the child.
We could not expect a special needs child like the one described above to stay at a camp ground and sleep in a tent.
Type of Disaster: What type of disaster is the unit considering and planning for? The chances of a nuclear device being detonated in New York or Washington DC is a lot more likely then some little town in Kansas. The chances of New Orleans being hit by a hurricane is a lot higher then North Dakota.
Part of a units plans have to relate to the type of disaster that is prone to that area. Whether its flooding, wild fires, blizzards, earthquakes or hurricanes, every part of the world faces its own unique type of disasters. Some types of disasters will require the unit to evacuate. Other types of disasters will require the unit to shelter in place.
Once the unit has decided its time to leave, have a plan, and have a place to go.