New Orleans Evacuspots and Evacuteers Program
The New Orleans non-profit Evacuteer.org installed clearly recognizable public art in “Evacuspots,” New Orleans’ designated emergency evacuation locations, to facilitate public transportation during a mandatory evacuation in advance of a Category three or higher hurricane. Evacuteer.org partners with the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to aid in the operation of City Assisted Evacuation (CAE), the city’s free, public evacuation program to assist residents without their own means of transportation. In collaboration with the Arts Council of New Orleans, Evacuteer.org commissioned 17 public art pieces to both beautify neighborhoods and serve as noticeable and memorable markers for the city’s 17 designated evacuation pick-up points.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina shook the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,464 people, and displacing thousands of others. A mass evacuation to the Superdome football stadium resulted in thousands of people held for days in very poor conditions. Post-Katrina, the City of New Orleans shifted its emergency management strategy to focus on more effective evacuation, developing the CAE as an evacuation method of last resort for residents who cannot self-evacuate. The CAE was first deployed in 2008 in advance of Hurricane Gustav, when it successfully evacuated 18,000 residents, albeit not smoothly. Evacuteer.org was created in 2009 to address lessons learned during that evacuation by training and managing volunteers, called “evacuteers,” to help the process of evacuation. Evacuteer.org trains 500 citizen evacuteers each hurricane season to assist with CAE during an evacuation. Evacuteer.org is authorized by the City to manage evacuteers working at the 17 pick-up points, at the Union Passenger Terminal for transportation connections, and at City Hall for help operating the 3-1-1 hotline during an evacuation.During a mandatory evacuation, residents participating in the CAE are to assemble at one of 17 Evacuspots to be evacuated via New Orleans’ public transit buses, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). The CAE can accommodate 35,000-40,000 residents, and serves the city’s most vulnerable population, those who lack transportation means or may have physical limitations. To help residents identify the evacuation meeting spots, Evacuteer.org partnered with the Arts Council of New Orleans to hold a public art design competition. The winning design, a twelve-foot-tall sculpture of a figure with an outstretched arm, replaced the non-descript, text-heavy signs that previously marked the pick-up spots. The sculptures are visually striking and memorable, which helps to facilitate outreach, information, and education about evacuation procedures in New Orleans, where adult literacy rates are estimated at 44 percent.
A contract with the City of New Orleans helps fund Evacuteer.org’s volunteer trainings. Other funding sources include financial commitments from the Arts Council, City Council, and donations from the other private individual donors.
In June 2015, Evacuteer.org began Phase II of the Evacuspot project, an effort to improve Evacuspots by providing lighting for each sculpture using solar energy units. Evacuteer.org launched the Love, Write, Light campaign during the 10-year anniversary year of Hurricane Katrina, to raise awareness and funding for the solar-powered Evacuspot lighting installations. The lighting will help improve visibility of the Evacuspot locations as critical markers for emergency preparedness.
This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on October 23, 2015.
Publication Date: 2013
- New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
- City of New Orleans, Louisiana
- Case study