In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the city of San Antonio, Texas, sheltered an estimated 37,000 storm evacuees at a cost to the city of roughly $21.8 million. While extraordinary in its benevolence, the city’s mayor at the time, Phil Hardberger, conceded later that his initial assessment that San Antonio could handle such a wave of refugees, even if it meant creating and implementing a complex, multiagency plan on the fly, was bold and maybe even ignorant.
“Put yourself in Hardberger’s shoes,” writes Dean Larson, the chair of the technical committee of NFPA 1616, Mass Evacuation, Sheltering, and Reentry Programs, in his feature article “Single Source” in the new issue of NFPA Journal. “Sheltering that many people for an indeterminate length of time is a truly daunting task, one you’ve never before undertaken. Where do you even begin?”
Now, with the creation of NFPA 1616, there is a document officials can turn to for assistance. In his article, Larson details the just completed NFPA 1616—the 2017 edition will be the first—which describes an integrated program for planning, executing, and evaluating mass evacuation, mass sheltering, and mass reentry.
“I believe the new standard will allow emergency managers and other key decision makers to initiate and manage such programs much more quickly and efficiently, and will help ensure a safe, humane, and supportive experience for evacuees throughout the evacuation, sheltering, and reentry process,” Larson writes in the article.
Learn much more about the new NFPA 1616 standard, how it was created, the process technical committee members went through to create it, as well as much more about what the how it will impact future mass evacuation and sheltering events, by reading Larson's article in the all in the new May/June issue of NFPA Journal.