The earthquake earlier this week, and the ensuing traffic and Metrorail delays in the hours afterward, have generated quite a bit of conversation in our region about how we should approach evacuation procedures in the future. Fortunately, we were spared anything that could be called "devastation" compared to calamities which have taken place elsewhere (unless you are using the word ironically to mock the entire East Coast). However, the event did serve as a sort of "fire drill," and now, with local residents gearing up for Hurricane Irene, the District Department of Transportation and others are trying to get information out to prepare people for how to deal with transportation during emergencies.
DDOT has a great instructional brochure with all kinds of useful tips about how to respond in the event of an emergency. You can avoid panic by preparing ahead of time and keeping several key points in mind:
- Do not immediately assume that evacuation is necessary. Often, staying put or seeking shelter nearby is the best thing to do. Wait to hear what authorities recommend that people do. Information will be disseminated through media outlets.
- Be prepared to walk or use public transit to get home or out of the District if driving is not a viable option.
- Unless otherwise directed, Metrorail and Metrobus will continue to provide service during an emergency. Familiarize yourself ahead of time with both the Metrobus and Metrorail routes that you would need to take, in case one or the other of them discontinues service. You can also sign up to receive alerts about Metro service.
- Bike trails throughout the city offer a safe route for people to bicycle or walk to safety.
- If you are leaving by car, reach out to coworkers or neighbors to share a ride to a safer location. Sharing rides will help to reduce traffic congestion with everyone trying to leave the city at once.
- If you need to abandon your vehicle, please do so in an area that does not block the roadway or impede travel along an evacuation route.
- There are 19 evacuation routes radiating outward from downtown DC and extending to the Capital Beltway (I-495) and beyond.
Click here for a complete list of emergency contacts, media outlets, bike trails, evacuation routes and how to create a family emergency plan.
By Anne Factor at goDCgo
goDCgo is an initiative of the District Department of Transportation that provides employees, residents and visitors with the education and assistance they need to make more informed choices about their daily travel. Focusing on the overall reduction of single-occupant vehicle travel through the promotion of more sustainable modes, our efforts help decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality thus creating a better quality of life in the District and its surrounding jurisdictions.