| CAPE MAY COUNTY
HURRICANE EVACUATION PLAN
I. PRIMARY AGENCIES:
Cape May County Government
Board of Chosen Freeholders
Emergency Management Communications Center
State of New Jersey
Health and Senior Services
Military and Veterans Affairs
NJSP - Emergency Management / South Region
NJSP - Incident Management
Agencies & Utilities
Atlantic City Electric
Comcast Cable Company
South Jersey Gas Company
Southern Shore Chapter American Red Cross
II. SUPPORT AGENCIES:
Cape May County Government
Community Emergency Response Team
Facilities and Services
Human Services Department
Management Information Services
Public Works Department
Radio Amateur Civilian Emergency Service
Treasurers / Purchasing Department
The purpose of this plan is to define and provide guidance for the development and operation of a viable evacuation program for evacuating Cape May County due to the threat of a hurricane and to ensure completion of required emergency actions.
The primary objective is to evacuate low-lying coastal areas and any other threatened population within the County from east to west; and, do so prior to the onset of tropical storm force winds (39 mph).
Municipal OEM Personnel will be responsible to coordinate evacuation at the local level, moving traffic onto identified local evacuation routes.
The major evacuation routes in the County are:
North Bound Lanes on:
- Garden State Parkway
- U.S. Highway Route 9
- State Highway Route 47
- State Highway Route 50
West Bound on:
- State Highway Route 49
On these major routes, coordination will be the primary responsibility of the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), with the assistance from County and Municipal agencies.
Included in this plan is the contra flow for Route 47/347 Reverse Lane strategy.
This will provide for a reduction of the time need to clear traffic exiting Cape May County via Route 83 and 47 by reversing the southbound lane of Route 47/347 thereby providing two lanes northbound.
This Plan will be incorporated into the overall Cape May County Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The Plan will be reviewed and updated at least once each year before the beginning of the hurricane season. This review will include, at a minimum, the primary agency identified under Section 1 of this Plan.
Municipal personnel will coordinate decision-making with the Cape May County Emergency Management Communications Center (CMC EMCC).
The CMC EMCC will coordinate its decision-making with the NJOEM and the NJDOT, however the final decision to effect an evacuation rests with the CMC EMCC.
Should a reverse lane operation order be called for Route 47/347, the governor will issue a State of Emergency in order to empower the State, County and Municipal Agencies with the carrying out the evacuation and traffic control.
All other (local) coastal evacuation decisions may be initiated by the CMC EMCC in coordination with the NJOEM, NJDOT and the affected Municipal forces.
On these routes a Governor's declaration need not be issued as evacuation will be limited to municipal forces only and involve local populations specific only to those roadways.
All participating agencies recognize that an evacuation order may be issued for more than just Cape May County, and indeed, for many of New Jersey's 21 counties. As such, resources and manpower support may be limited and not available for all identified locations in this plan.
If needed, resource requests will be prioritized in order to maintain the safest and most efficient movement of traffic away from the coast.
To this end, the CMC EMCC will maintain close coordination with the NJOEM and the NJDOT.
A. Existing Conditions
Cape May County's barrier islands run virtually the entire length of the County.
Total population for the Cape May County as a whole ranges from a permanent 107,000 to as much as 850,000 peak.
During the height of tourist season, from July 1st through Labor Day, which coincides with much of hurricane season, as many as 1,000,000 people can be enjoying our beaches, boardwalks, rental homes, hotels and motels, and businesses along the coast. A considerable year-round population exists immediately inland of the coast, but still well within reach of hurricane winds and flooding.
During the Summer, daily traffic is often bumper to bumper, especially on weekends, when day-trippers and weekly rentals are traveling to the beach communities.
Backups can accumulate at traffic lights and other major intersections, as well as at the many bridges that cross the bays out to the barrier islands.
The final destinations for the majority of this population are the barrier island communities.
In the case of each of these islands a single bridge moves most of the population by privately-owned vehicle (POV).
In addition, some of these bridges are movable, and are periodically raised to allow taller ships to pass, thereby exacerbating traffic problems into the beach communities.
Construction and reconstruction of the State, County and local roads is occurring up and down New Jersey's coast.
Many of the bridges are old and in need of fortification and/or expansion to handle the increase in seasonal population flow.
At any given time, traffic has to be detoured through neighborhood streets while construction is under way.
In certain cases it is unavoidable to maintain more than a single lane of traffic through the construction zone even on routes that were traditionally two or more lanes each way.
B. Disaster Condition
Flooding has been and will always be a problem for New Jersey's coast. Much of this area is less than 10 feet above sea level.
During periods of heavy rain many low-lying segments of the routes that are used for both daily and evacuation use can and do flood temporarily until storm drains can catch up and remove the standing water.
During these times, NJDOT, County and municipal personnel forces are accustomed to rerouting traffic around these flooded road segments.
This can hamper, delay and extend evacuation times for widespread areas as traffic backs up along these roads.
While the Summer months are predominantly dry in addition to being hot, there may be incidences of heavy rains, which can saturate the ground and keep the water table close to the surface.
Should a storm impact Cape May County during such a scenario, it is likely that low-lying areas and roads will begin to flood much earlier than normally expected. In addition, tides are often negatively affected by an approaching storm several days before a storm, and drainage systems may be slowed during each tidal cycle.
As the storm gets closer and depending on wind direction, rivers and creeks draining into the bays can be held back for several hours, cutting off evacuation routes.
C. Planning Assumptions
Clearance times for Cape May County vary, ranging between 15 to 22 hours, possibly more.
These figures represent ideal conditions, meaning that an evacuation order would have been issued in a timely fashion, providing the time needed to muster the emergency personnel, effect an evacuation and remove response forces all prior to the onset of tropical storm force winds (39 mph).
It is unlikely that this will occur as planned.
Politics, uncertainty in storm forecast track, time of day, and other local considerations make it more likely that there will be a delay in the decision to order an evacuation on time.
Since updated forecasts are issued by the National HurricaneCenter (NHC) every 6 hours, it is likely that said delays will be made in increments of 3 or 6 hours.
It is not inconceivable, therefore, that an evacuation order could be delayed for up to 12 hours until officials are confident that an evacuation is required.
As the threat of a strike to New Jersey is at it's height during the peak Summer period, the option to utilize and order a reverse lane operation for Route 47/347 will almost definitely be used.
Emergency management will initiate the reversals as soon as an evacuation begins and without delay.
For the Route 47/347 reverse lane operations, the Governor will declare a State of Emergency.
The interstate 195 reverse lane operation is still under development, and would not be used unless deemed absolutely necessary and ordered by the Governor as adequate planning and sufficient resources are not available at this time.
VI. OPERATIONS AND CONTROL
The NJOEM will coordinate statewide hurricane operations.
Operations and control will emanate from the State Emergency Operations Center at Division Headquarters of the New Jersey State Police in West Trenton, NJ.
The State EOC will coordinate with the CMC EMCC for all county-level activities.
The CMC EMCC shall coordinate all local-level operations with its municipalities.
The CMC EMCC is the lead agency for the coordinating emergency management in Cape May County.
Operations and Control will emanate from the Cape May County Emergency Management Communications Center, (CMC EMCC) at 30 West Mechanic Street, Cape May Court House, NJ.
Details of how the Route 47/347 Reverse Lane Operation will be coordinated, which are covered in a stand-alone plan, are referenced as an attachment to this Plan.
Decision-making for all County and local-level operations will be under the command of the CMC EMCC.
Close coordination with the NJOEM and NJDOT at the State EOC will be maintained in order to ensure a safe and efficient flow of traffic during the evacuation.
The line of succession for the CMC EMCC will be as follows:
Frank McCall, Director; Art Treon, Deputy Director
At the local level, command and control will be handled by the chief law enforcement official and/or emergency management coordinator via the local EOC's in each jurisdiction, working in close coordination with fire, EMS, public works and any other municipal departments.
All local evacuation decisions will be coordinated up the chain from the municipal level through the County up to the State EOC.
Direction and Control for the Route 47/347 Reverse Lane Operation and the remaining State, and interstate highways and the Garden State Parkway (GSP) will be coordinated jointly by the NJSP Incident Management Unit (IMU) and the NJDOT Traffic Operations Division.
C. Notification Procedures
The CMC EMCC shall coordinate notification of all county departments involved in hurricane evacuation.
The CMC EMCC, in concert with the State EOC and the NJDOT shall closely monitor any developing and/or approaching storm that may impact Cape May County.
The Hurwin95 and/or Hurrevac2000 software will be the primary tracking and forecasting tool used to follow an approaching storm.
Upon agreement by all three above mentioned agencies, the State EOC shall notify the Governor's Office and the Attorney General's On-Call Duty Officer and advise each of the need for a Declaration of a State of Emergency on the part of the Governor.
The State EOC shall ensure that all affected counties, state and allied agencies are notified and kept abreast of the status of all evacuation decision-making.
D. Implementation Actions
Several days prior to the potential arrival of a hurricane, all participating agencies shall review this plan for implementation procedures.
In some cases, this may be up to 5 days in advance of an approaching storm.
As an approaching storm's probability of striking Cape May County reaches a heightened level of concern, the CMC EMCC, NJSP, and NJDOT shall direct the setting up of staffing patterns and intersection assignments for mustered personnel. In addition, resource assignments will be issued for all locations where said resource needs have been identified.
Once an evacuation order is imminent, all affected agencies shall immediately be notified in order to provide the time necessary to deploy manpower and resources along the identified evacuation routes.
This step is crucial to ensuring that local operations begin smoothly and in a coordinated manner. It is estimated that approximately 12 hours will be needed for this purpose.
When all deployed forces have reported in a state of readiness, this shall be immediately communicated to the CMC EMCC and the State EOC.
At this time an evacuation order may be issued.
Depending on the time of the year, the clearance time for Cape May County may be as much as 15-22 hours. Adding to this the 12 hours needed for preparation and activation of evacuation routes, every attempt will be made to issue an evacuation order no less than19-26 hours prior to the arrival of Tropical Storm Force winds (39 mph).
It must be understood that this is a worst-case scenario, representing peak population figures.
It is estimated that the reverse lane strategy for the Route 47/347 corridor will reduce the evacuation of Cape May County by up to 10 hours.
For late season storms an evacuation order may be no less than 9-16 hours prior to arrival of Tropical Storm Force winds.
Should a storm threaten Cape May County later in the season (i.e., when weekly and weekend rentals have dropped off), evacuation clearance times drop considerably. In this scenario, reverse lane strategies may not be needed as only 8-12 hours may be needed to complete an evacuation.
E. Reception and Sheltering
The County of Cape May has no shelter that is totally adequate for use during an extraordinary disaster.
Some shelters would not be used in certain emergencies as they do not have emergency power, while others may be prone to flooding during a hurricane; particularly Category II, III, IV storms.
There are no shelters available in Cape May County for Category II or greatery Chapter of the American Red Cross is the primary agency for providing shelters in non-nuclear events; and, the support agency is the Cape May County Emergency Management Communications Center.
The only agreement the County has with the American Red Cross is the Statement of Understanding between FEMA, the American Red Cross 1982; and, the Statement of Understanding between the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross 1984.
F. Refuges of Last Resort
According to this Plan, traffic will be moved from local roads onto County roads, and then finally onto State and Interstate highways for eventual evacuation from east to west.
Under more emergent conditions when the approaching storm has or is about to overtake traffic posing a threat from wind or flooding to evacuation routes, traffic may be ordered to move into facilities to provide at least a minimum of protection against the storm.
These facilities will be identified by the New Jersey Department of Human Services to theCMC EMCC and its municipalities and opened under the authority of the American Red Cross at the direction of the CMC EMCC.
It is understood that these facilities may not provide ideal sheltering characteristics, and as such are to be used for temporary purposes only.
Once the worst of the storm passed, the population housed will be disbursed or allowed to return to their point of origin.
G. Special Needs Populations
Cape May County has a considerable amount of population with unique needs.
This includes retirement villages, a hospital and nursing homes.
In some cases, some of these facilities will require additional time or outside assistance in evacuating.
The CMC EMCC will coordinate notification for warning and evacuations of these facilities.