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Optimization of Evacuation Warnings Prior to a Hurricane Disaster

Sun, Dian, Kang, Jee Eun, Batta, Rajan, Song, Yan
Sustainability 2017 v.9 no.11
case studies, disaster preparedness, hurricanes, public transportation, system optimization
The key purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that optimization of evacuation warnings by time period and impacted zone is crucial for efficient evacuation of an area impacted by a hurricane. We assume that people behave in a manner consistent with the warnings they receive. By optimizing the issuance of hurricane evacuation warnings, one can control the number of evacuees at different time intervals to avoid congestion in the process of evacuation. The warning optimization model is applied to a case study of Hurricane Sandy using the study region of Brooklyn. We first develop a model for shelter assignment and then use this outcome to model hurricane evacuation warning optimization, which prescribes an evacuation plan that maximizes the number of evacuees. A significant technical contribution is the development of an iterative greedy heuristic procedure for the nonlinear formulation, which is shown to be optimal for the case of a single evacuation zone with a single evacuee type case, while it does not guarantee optimality for multiple zones under unusual circumstances. A significant applied contribution is the demonstration of an interface of the evacuation warning method with a public transportation scheme to facilitate evacuation of a car-less population. This heuristic we employ can be readily adapted to the case where response rate is a function of evacuation number in prior periods and other variable factors. This element is also explored in the context of our experiment.