A Checklist of Immediate Actions for Addressing COVID-19 as Part of Evacuation Planning

Authors: Stephen Wong, Jacquelyn Broader, Susan Shaheen, PhD Date: October 1, 2020 Abstract:  Well planned and coordinated evacuations are critical to saving lives during natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, wildfires) and human-caused disasters (e.g., chemical spills, terrorism). To complicate matters, recent wildfires in the western United States (U.S.) and multiple hurricanes in the Gulf Coast have coincided with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As of mid-October 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to over 7.9 million positive cases and over 217,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures that were introduced to address COVID-19 may conflict with evacuation orders that employ high-capacity evacuation vehicles (e.g., buses), congregate shelters, and resource sharing (e.g., carpools, relief supplies, food distribution). Evacuations may become spreading events for the virus if destinations (or origins) have high trans-mission rates, compounding the risks of COVID-19 and the disaster. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the risks to vulnerable populations, who may have limited mobility and lack access to essentials such as jobs, food, healthcare, and COVID-19 testing. View...
UC Berkeley releases report on disaster evacuations

UC Berkeley releases report on disaster evacuations

Aidan Freeman July 12, 2019   A U.C. Berkeley team that conducted wildfire evacuation focus group research in Lake County released a report this week that recommends more use by government agencies of the sharing economy during disaster evacuations. The report, entitled “Current State of the Sharing Economy and Evacuations: Lessons from California,” investigates the public perception and potential impacts of ridesharing and homesharing during events like the Mendocino Complex Fire of 2018, for which the Berkeley team hosted a Spanish-speaking focus group to study that demographic’s stance on sharing homes or vehicles during emergencies. The Berkeley study’s primary authors, Stephen Wong and Susan Shaheen, write that “In many evacuations including wildfire evacuations, public agencies often do not have enough resources to evacuate and shelter all citizens.” “Consequently,” they continue, “we propose that the sharing economy, through private companies and/or private citizens, could be leveraged in disasters for transportation and sheltering resources.” The need for more efficient means of transport during and emergency evacuation was made horrifically clear during the Camp Fire in November when thousands of Paradise residents attempted to flee the approaching fire at once along just a few viable exit routes, resulting in congestion and many casualties. In Lake County, roughly 19,000 residents were evacuated during the Mendocino Complex Fire last year. But in rural counties like Lake, Wong noted in an interview, the sharing economy manifests differently than it does in urban areas. Tech-based ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are hardly present in Lake County at all, and while homeshares through Airbnb are present here, most of the subjects in the Berkeley focus group were...
How can companies like Airbnb, Lyft or Uber help in disasters?

How can companies like Airbnb, Lyft or Uber help in disasters?

Linda Vu June 19, 2019   In the past few years, devastating California wildfires have forced more than half a million people to evacuate their homes. In many cases, local government agencies did not have enough resources to transport and shelter all of the evacuees, especially vulnerable populations like the elderly and disabled. Meanwhile those who could afford it, secured hotel rooms or Airbnbs and evacuated with their cars. Now, researchers at UC Berkeley are suggesting that emergency management agencies and local relief organizations partner with companies in the sharing economy — including Airbnb, Lyft and Uber — and private citizens, to ensure equity in evacuations. They described their ideas in a first-of-its-kind policy brief published today. “Private sharing economy companies have already acted in California disasters and I’ve found that private citizens are moderately willing to share their own resources in disaster relief situations, especially transportation,” said Stephen Wong, a transportation engineering Ph.D. candidate in UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center. “Local organizations and emergency response agencies should…   Read the full article here: How can companies like Airbnb, Lyft or Uber help in...