149013 Urban to rural evacuation: Development of a web-based planning tool

Monday, November 5, 2007: 10:30 AM

Michael Meit, MPH, MA , Department of Health Policy and Evaluation, NORC at the University of Chicago, Bethesda, MD
Thomas Briggs , Department of Health Policy and Evaluation, NORC at the University of Chicago, Washington, DC
Alene Kennedy , Department of Health Policy and Evaluation, NORC at the University of Chicago, Bethesda, MD
The potential evacuation of urban citizens to surrounding rural areas following a disaster or public health emergency is a significant preparedness concern. Rural planners have little urban evacuation information on which to base rural preparedness planning efforts. This presentation offers a method and tool for predicting the evacuation from an urban center to surrounding rural areas and for providing information resources for rural preparedness planning. Studies of past evacuations, consultations with key preparedness experts at the rural, urban, and national levels, and results from a nationwide survey were used to inform the identification of variables predictive of urban to rural evacuation. Based on this information, modeling algorithms were developed to estimate the potential influx of urban residents in surrounding rural areas. The algorithms are based on three evacuation scenarios: pandemic influenza, explosion of a radiological dispersion device (a “dirty bomb”), and a chemical incident. By comparing the relative attraction of localities surrounding an urban center, the model predicts where evacuees are most likely to go following one of these events. An interactive, map-based online tool allows local planners to view population surges in communities, assess their current capacities, and plan accordingly. The tool produces estimated numbers of evacuees per county and presents information for planning purposes, including local planning resources and demographic characteristics of predicted evacuees.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify disaster preparedness issues facing rural communities. 2. Analyze how evacuation destinations might be predicted based on the relative pull of localities surrounding an urban center. 3. Assess one's own community's capacity to absorb a population surge and recognize areas for preparedness improvement.

Keywords: Community Response, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.