In an emergency, every second counts. To save lives in crises like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or wildfires, governments must be ready to deploy a meticulous emergency evacuation plan without delay.

TMS is the foremost planning and management solutions firm for emergency transportation and evacuation planning in the U.S., developing the plans, operational implementation, and transportation response logistics for national emergencies. We have provided key emergency evacuation services to local, state, and federal governments since 2005, including as the prime contractor for FEMA’s Evacuation Planning & Operational Support (EP&OS) contract, including for major hurricanes.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is already underway with almost all forecasts indicating an unusually active season this year due to atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Recently, the forecast raised to 24 Storms, the second most on record. Colorado State University meteorologists predict that there will be 19 named storms in 2020, of which nine will be hurricanes. In a typical season, there are six hurricanes out of 10 named storms. An active hurricane season is always cause for concern, but this year’s predictions are even more grave considering the public health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

TMS’ expertise in emergency evacuation planning is now more crucial than ever before.

“Evacuations are done in a matter of hours, unlike with events that give you the ability to plan over months and years,” Justin DeMello, Director of Emergency Services at TMS. “We have the experience – and the trust of state and federal leaders – to provide full evacuation operations on short notice. Our team has built trust with federal and state officials over many years, and we are continuously strengthening these relationships.”

FEMA recently issued TMS a 60-day planning task order to provide technical planning assistance to hurricane prone states. This technical assistance will look at current evacuation plans and determine what are necessary changes to adapt plans to successfully conduct evacuations considering the CDC’s guidance for social distancing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as well as other mass-evacuation challenges. It is reasonable to understand many evacuees may be hesitant to evacuate on state and local transportation resources unless there are protective measures to ensure they are not being exposed to COVID-19, so it’s essential these precautions are outlined prior.

DeMello outlines the important ways TMS is partnering with governments to keep citizens safe in emergency situations on both the state and the federal level.

State Emergency Evacuation Planning

States approach TMS for evacuation planning because we don’t simply provide the bus for an evacuation; we manage every aspect of emergency transportation, including scenario planning, fleet acquisition, and successful execution.

Our team works closely with governors and state and local emergency management directors to define what their requirements are for an evacuation. In a hurricane scenario, leaders will consult TMS while tracking storms to compare notes and explore courses of action. Evacuation compliance will depend on the direction and size of the storm, which affects the number of buses needed.

Federal Emergency Evacuation Planning

The federal government also relies on TMS to provide evacuation planning to state and local governments. TMS partners with FEMA year round to plan for evacuations related to hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, and other emergencies.

Our team works with FEMA to identify the zones that are at risk – for example, neighborhoods that need to evacuate from rising water levels or high winds during a hurricane. We ask FEMA and state leaders questions to develop a detailed plan:

  • What are your zones?
  • How many people in these zones?
  • What percentage of the population will need to evacuate?
  • Where do you want people to go when they evacuate?
  • How will each group of people get to shelter?

While most vendors just supply the buses for an evacuation, TMS provides management and control of both the vehicles and the overall emergency transportation plan to orchestrate the mission successfully.

Learn more about TMS’ government and emergency services.