Columbus announces downtown evacuation plan

About 300-thousand people work in downtown Columbus everyday. The Columbus Division of Police says it’s prepared in the event it needs to move those people out of the area. Unlike New Orleans which had a few days to prepare for an approaching hurricane Columbus would have little advance notice. Sergeant Tim McVey of the Police Division’s Emergency Operation Center presented the city’s evacuation plan.

The size type and scope of the incident will determine our procedures for what we evacuate and how we evacuate a particular area.

McVey says the downtown area’s biggest threats would be hazardous material accidents, terrorist attacks or explosive detonations. He says specific evacuation routes have not been outlined and will be determined on a case by case basis.

McVey says the city would provide transportation out of the area in the event of an emergency evacuation.

On the perimeter of the downtown area or the effected area we’re going to set up assembly areas. We’re going to get people to places such as Broad (Street) and Marconi (Boulevard) and they will gather there and at that point we’ll bring COTA buses into the area and they’ll take them out of the downtown area.

McVey says this will also help reduce traffic flow.Emergency officials also encourage businesses to help employees pre-plan evacuation car pools so there will be fewer cars on the roads.

One of the biggest problems during Hurricane Katrina was communication between emergency personnel. Deputy Chief John Rockwell says that will not be an issue in Columbus.

One of the advantages that I see in having visited and talked to other cities that are dealing with these issues is that where I think we’re ahead of the game is the relationship we have between police, fire and public service and the other jurisdictions. We talk to each other probably daily and we know each other on a first name basis. There’s never going to be a time that we go to a disaster event and have to introduce ourselves.

McVey says in the event of an evacuation people will be notified in various ways such as the Emergency Alert System, reverse 9-1-1 and the media.