Evacuation ? for LEOs

Evacuation ? for LEOs

This is a discussion on Evacuation ? for LEOs within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Been watching a lot of severe weather news the last few days, and the phrase "mandatory evacuation" keeps popping up on the news. What is ...

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    Senior Member Array ICTsnub's Avatar
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    Evacuation ? for LEOs

    Been watching a lot of severe weather news the last few days, and the phrase "mandatory evacuation" keeps popping up on the news. What is the authority that makes it "mandatory". If I'm fool enough to want to stay on my own property, what is the law on removing me? Is most of this a strong bluff?

    On the flip side, what keeps me from returning to my property after an evacuation, other than my safety?
    I'm not a lawyer or a LEO, just a pantload with a computer.


  2. #2
    Member Array Timezoneguy's Avatar
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    Well let me say this IMHO. Mandatory seems to indicate they have some rule of law authorizing LEO to forcefully evacuate you. I am unaware of folks actually taken by force from their home by LEO. However there must be a point where, if you refuse to leave, that cops/fire /EMS are no longer obligated to respond/protect you. I assume that if you are gone it makes their lives much easier and legal confilts less. That being said the news is filled with the bodies of folks who refused to evacuate the flash flood warning or drove around the traffic barricade and were swept away. I get it, I would hate to leave my house only to come back and what did survive was looted by those thugs who snuck in or never left. It's a tough call. Once you are evacuated and on the safe side of the barricade I think that their legal authority to prevent you from returning is a little stronger. Just my $0.02
    Last edited by Timezoneguy; April 26th, 2011 at 01:02 PM.
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    Senior Member Array Chad Rogers's Avatar
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    The bottom line is many states have laws which allow for the arrest of persons who refuse to evacuate specified areas during declared emergencies. These are legal statutes.

    For what it is worth here is some language from a relatively recent (post-2000) Supreme Court decision, which did not find such laws unconstitutional (THAMES SHIPYARD & REPAIR COMPANY V. UNITED STATES):

    Almost every state in the United States has adopted statutes providing for the exercise of police powers in the event of an emergency or disaster (such as fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, etc.) See Howard D. Swanson, The Delicate Art of Practicing Municipal Law Under Conditions of Hell and High Water, 76 N.D.L.Rev. 487, 490-93 & n. 10 (2000) (citing statutes). Most of the state statutory schemes provide that the governor of the state has the ability to declare an emergency. See id. at 490. "Further, most of the states also allow the exercise of emergency or disaster authority by a local government." Id. One of the most common forms of authority exercised in an emergency is the mandatory evacuation of buildings, streets, neighborhoods, and cities.

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    Member Array txshooter's Avatar
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    Having been through several mandatory evacuations due to hurricanes I can tell you yes, they have state statutes behind them if they want to use it. However, they haven't arrested anyone or forced them out. During Hurricane Ike, if they had there would be a number of people still alive. People were warned of the storm surge and didn't listen. They were swept away with most of the bodies being found 15 miles or more inland from where they stayed.

    During Hurricane Rita they had good cooperation with most people leaving. That was a bad storm. They also had a curfew. It made it easier for law enforcement to control or contain the bad guys. Capture rate was over 90% of looters and burglars here locally.

    During Hurricane Ike a couple of years later, most people didn't leave and there was a lot of chaos. Police spent more time mediating disputes over gas, water and food shortages between the citizens that stayed than protecting property. The effective arrest rate of looters was way down.

    People just don't realize the danger they are in during these type of events. You are on your own and access to medical care and other services is severely limited. Stores, businesses, gas stations, etc. are closed for weeks. Power is out for extended periods of time. Even water and sewer ceases to function. Telephone service including cell coverage is disrupted.

    It ain't fun. Unless you are in good physical shape and self sufficient, you really should leave. The only people around to help are you neighbors if they stayed.

    For those returning before the mandatory evacuation orders were lifted, they found it extremely difficult to get back in; the state troopers manned all of the major roads and highways feeding into the affected areas with roadblocks preventing people from entering. Unless you had the proper credentials pre-approved from local emergency management officials, you were turned away. Only essential people necessary to storm recovery or support services were allowed back in after the storm had passed.

    If you stayed within the evacuation area and were out past curfewed, you got stopped. That is how a number of the bad guys were caught. Ordinary citizens were stopped as well and told to go home immediately, otherwise face arrest.

    Law enforcement officers from other communities throughout the state, as well as some from out of state saturated the affected areas. State troopers and game wardens from all over Texas were reassigned to the affect areas. It was kinda of cool seeing the 100+ car caravans of state troopers coming down the highway flashing their lights. You don't see that often.

    So, from my perspective the more people evacuate makes it easier for emergency personnel to do their jobs and be more effective. I believe your property is actually safer than normal as the police are out in force focusing on preventing looting and such. They don't spend time enforcing traffic laws or responding to calls. The ratio of LEO to citizens was never higher. At least that is how it worked during Rita.
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    Member Array Broken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by txshooter View Post
    Having been through several mandatory evacuations due to hurricanes I can tell you yes, they have state statutes behind them if they want to use it. However, they haven't arrested anyone or forced them out. During Hurricane Ike, if they had there would be a number of people still alive. People were warned of the storm surge and didn't listen. They were swept away with most of the bodies being found 15 miles or more inland from where they stayed.

    During Hurricane Rita they had good cooperation with most people leaving. That was a bad storm. They also had a curfew. It made it easier for law enforcement to control or contain the bad guys. Capture rate was over 90% of looters and burglars here locally.

    During Hurricane Ike a couple of years later, most people didn't leave and there was a lot of chaos. Police spent more time mediating disputes over gas, water and food shortages between the citizens that stayed than protecting property. The effective arrest rate of looters was way down.

    People just don't realize the danger they are in during these type of events. You are on your own and access to medical care and other services is severely limited. Stores, businesses, gas stations, etc. are closed for weeks. Power is out for extended periods of time. Even water and sewer ceases to function. Telephone service including cell coverage is disrupted.

    It ain't fun. Unless you are in good physical shape and self sufficient, you really should leave. The only people around to help are you neighbors if they stayed.

    For those returning before the mandatory evacuation orders were lifted, they found it extremely difficult to get back in; the state troopers manned all of the major roads and highways feeding into the affected areas with roadblocks preventing people from entering. Unless you had the proper credentials pre-approved from local emergency management officials, you were turned away. Only essential people necessary to storm recovery or support services were allowed back in after the storm had passed.

    If you stayed within the evacuation area and were out past curfewed, you got stopped. That is how a number of the bad guys were caught. Ordinary citizens were stopped as well and told to go home immediately, otherwise face arrest.

    Law enforcement officers from other communities throughout the state, as well as some from out of state saturated the affected areas. State troopers and game wardens from all over Texas were reassigned to the affect areas. It was kinda of cool seeing the 100+ car caravans of state troopers coming down the highway flashing their lights. You don't see that often.

    So, from my perspective the more people evacuate makes it easier for emergency personnel to do their jobs and be more effective. I believe your property is actually safer than normal as the police are out in force focusing on preventing looting and such. They don't spend time enforcing traffic laws or responding to calls. The ratio of LEO to citizens was never higher. At least that is how it worked during Rita.
    excellent info tx! Good work with all of the details and giving us what sounds like first hand experience.
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    Member Array Bhamrichard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by txshooter View Post
    So, from my perspective the more people evacuate makes it easier for emergency personnel to do their jobs and be more effective. I believe your property is actually safer than normal as the police are out in force focusing on preventing looting and such. They don't spend time enforcing traffic laws or responding to calls. The ratio of LEO to citizens was never higher. At least that is how it worked during Rita.
    I can see your point, but your talking about after the fact, when additional police and other personal have had time to regroup and refocus when additional bodies arrive to help. In the immediate aftermath of any natural disaster, there is no column of 100 cars tooling down the road. The first responders for your area are the only 'official' help that exists, and in most communities that would be a very small force. I wouldn't have a problem evacuating my home after some level of control is in place, but being ordered to surrender my home and my belongings (assuming I felt it was at least reasonably safe to stay) to the scum that inevitably roam after such events, is not something I'd be willing to do at the behest of someone in a uniform.
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    Senior Member Array TheGreatGonzo's Avatar
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    What a lot of jurisdictions do now is put out a message to the effect of: "If you choose to ingore mandatory evacuation orders you are declaring your understanding that no government law enforcement/fire/medical rescue assistance will be dispatched to your location until such a time as it has been determined to be safe for first responders to come out of shelter. Even then, assistance may be delayed or completely prevented from reaching your location.".
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    Here is why and how;

    Lets say there is impending doom that is going to hit your area. A mandatory evacuation is set. You refuse to go. Under some circumstances, they can and will force you out because there is a good chance you will be risking more lives and assets after the fact to rescue your stubborn butt. Nobody wants to sit around and watch another person die. Its human nature to try and rescue somebody no matter how risky. That is what they are trying to avoid with the mandatory evaucs.

    Now, I say, like Katrina, you knew, you were warned, tough luck. I'm not risking myself or anyone else simply because you were stubborn and thought you knew better. You made your own bed, now lie in it.

    There always will be the tough cases of people who truly could not get out for whatever reason. I'd rather focus efforts and assets on those cases vs. the know it all.
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    Senior Member Array DaRedneck's Avatar
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    I agree with txshooter for the most part. We were also under mandatory evacuation during Rita and Ike. I have small children so it is a no brainer for me. I always leave. My stuff is insured and can be replaced but my kiddos can't be replaced.

    I will add that the reason people stayed during Ike was because the Rita evacuation was a major cluster. It took me over 24 hours to drive just 100 miles north up to Huntsville. 95% of the people I talked to after that evacuation said that they would never leave again because of that experience and it turned out to be true during Ike. A lot of people refused to leave.

    To the OP, yes they can force you out. I don't personally know of anyone that refused to leave that actually got arrestted but it could happen. In fact I know several that told the police they were staying and they were told to hunker down and call if they got in a bind.
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    Senior Member Array ICTsnub's Avatar
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    In our area, the events that would trigger would be tornado, chemical leak, industrial fire or plane crash. Can't imagine a hurricane, so won't live where it happens.

    The Greensburg tornado was an eye opener for how personal property was pillaged while the town was "secured". I believe there is a time to stay and stand, and also a time to cut and run.
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    Member Array txshooter's Avatar
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    Actually the State Troopers were staged outside the storm area and yes, they did do their caravan right after the storm passed. They were in the area pretty quick. The local emergency management folks, as well as the State of Texas were more prepared after Ike.

    A lot of people didn't leave during Ike because of the mass traffic problems of Rita, combined with the fact in my area, that we had just evacuated the week before for Gustav. A lot of people just didn't have the funds to leave again. Gas and hotels are expensive.

    Plus, a lot of people purchased gas generators right after Rita (FEMA paid for most of them).

    But, there were a lot of problems during and after Ike. The first responders had to put themselves at risk rescuing people from flooded areas due to the storm surge. I heard from several officers involved. It was very dangerous. The storm surge came in before the storm. Some people along the coast waited too long and couldn't get out. Many of these were never heard of alive again.

    Then, I know of one gentlemen who stayed and was cutting tree limbs off of his house right after the storm cleared. He was severely injured when one of the limbs fell on him and struck him in the head.

    There was no one to come to his aid. Neighbors had to assist him. Only one hospital stayed open and it had limited staff for emergencies only. Otherwise he might not have survived.

    I witnessed one officer who had heat related problems and he couldn't get an ambulance. Fellow officers helped him. I spent some time with many of the officers and they worked very hard pulling long shifts keeping property and people safe. Most of their families had evacuated and they would have preferred to be with their families instead of working long hours seven days a week until the emergency was over.

    My hats off to them along with the Fire/Rescue and other first responders. They had a tough job and they did it well. No Katrina here.
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    Senior Member Array ICTsnub's Avatar
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    Let me make this more specific. The replies about hurricanes mean nothing to a Kansan.

    Let's assume my neighbor has his spring wound too tight, calls 911 saying big, angry words, and creates a standoff. No declared emergency, no power lines down. Door bell rings, and I am told to evacuate my house. What would keep me from saying "no thank you" and closing the door?
    I'm not a lawyer or a LEO, just a pantload with a computer.

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    Senior Member Array justherenow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICTsnub View Post
    Let me make this more specific. The replies about hurricanes mean nothing to a Kansan.

    Let's assume my neighbor has his spring wound too tight, calls 911 saying big, angry words, and creates a standoff. No declared emergency, no power lines down. Door bell rings, and I am told to evacuate my house. What would keep me from saying "no thank you" and closing the door?
    This kind of thing we read about often and I'm curious as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ICTsnub View Post
    Let me make this more specific. The replies about hurricanes mean nothing to a Kansan.

    Let's assume my neighbor has his spring wound too tight, calls 911 saying big, angry words, and creates a standoff. No declared emergency, no power lines down. Door bell rings, and I am told to evacuate my house. What would keep me from saying "no thank you" and closing the door?
    as an officer that has had to do this very thing a few times, I've had some people say they are not going to leave, we begged them to please just stay down the street until this is resolved and all but one time finally did after we explained their walls will not stop the rounds this guy was shooting and would still kill them while sitting on their couch

    the one time I had a man say no and kept his family in the house next door to a guy with rifles that had fired off rounds....we politely asked him to stay on the far side of the house away from the suspect's house and told him if something happens we may not be able to get him any help due to the circumstances and we left and continued helping the sensible people that heeded our warnings
    in this situation there isn't a mandatory evac as is done in hurricanes, etc so there is no legal statute for mandatory compliance...at least not here in Texas
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