Reducing Our Risk

Organization: 
Evacuteer.org

Entry Overview

Evacuteer.org is a non-­‐profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 2009 out of need for strong evacuation processes in New Orleans. Through an agreement with the New Orleans Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness Office, evacuteer.org is authorized to manage all volunteer efforts associated. We serve residents by providing the option to evacuate safely and with dignity during a mandatory evacuation through the public City Assisted Evacuation (CAE) option. Our mission requires maximizing and leveraging the potential of New Orleans residents as volunteers during an emergency. Our unique approach is in our mission to recruit, train, and manage community leaders and volunteers (500+) who will staff the 17 evacuation spots. Evacuteer.org has introduced an innovative awareness project to promote the CAE called Evacuspots. Evacuspots is our public art installation of 14-­‐foot steel sculptures at each of the city’s seventeen evacuation pick-­‐up points in 2013. The project embraces our city’s strong connection to the arts to raise awareness, break down language barriers, and engage the community in a dialog around public safety and hurricane preparedness.

General Info
Kali
Rapp
Email : 
kali@evacuteer.org
Organization Address: 
716 Lafayette St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70113
United States
Problem
Population Impacted: 
378,715
Hazard: 
Storm Surge
Identify the likelihood and frequency of this hazard : 
According to the NOAA, Louisiana has been affected by 28 tropical storm and hurricane events since 2000, creating a probability of one hurricane making landfall every 2.8 years.
Explain how vulnerable the community is to this hazard: 
There are 35,000 citizens who rely on public transportation day-to-day in Orleans parish, and 27% of the population live below the poverty level. Our most vulnerable served populations are those without a vehicle in the following neighborhoods: New Orleans East (25.6%), Treme (36.5%), Lower 9th Ward (32%) and Central City (37.7%). These areas include larger populations of low-income and elderly persons (over 65), the latter of which made up 49% of the Katrina death toll.
List the potential affects of this hazard: 
Based on events during Hurricane Katrina, there may be levee system failure, pump failure and infrastructure failure resulting in loss of life, clean water sources, food and shelter, power, severe flooding, public health incidents and sickness, 100,000 residents in need of rescue and evacuation, and lack of governance and/or proper law authority. This would result in incredible need for relocation services, mental health services, and rebuilding at the cost of billions.
Identify how sensitive the community is to these affects: 
There are approximately 92,000 current residents who do not have a car, and therefore rely on alternate means of transportation to evacuate. When those who did not evacuate during Hurricane Katrina were asked for the reason, the number one response was due to lack of transportation.
Action
Preparedness Goal: 
Empowering 500 volunteers each year to evacuate 35,000 fellow New Orleans residents with dignity and building resilience in the community.
Implementing Actions: 

Evacuteer.org recruits, trains, and manages 500 evacuteers who will be activated to directly assist during a mandatory evacuation. The mandatory evacuation begins at the 17 Evacuspots located strategically throughout the city, including four nursing home facilities. These spots designate where city buses will pick up and transport evacuees to the Union Passenger Terminal to be registered and evacuated out of the city to designated shelters. Evacuteer.org recruits evacuteers through multiple agencies, including 27 local partner groups, and actively certifies and recertifies those volunteers throughout the year to ensure preparedness. The iconic Evacuspot sculpture marks the first time public art has been incorporated into emergency management, serving as widely identifiable points of reference for a growing and diverse population in New Orleans. Designed to look like a person hailing a cab, they replace an outdated system of small, unnoticeable signs that are written only in one language.

To address growing concerns in an increasingly global world, we have created a universal icon that increases awareness by incorporating these unmistakeable symbols of refuge, which are built to withstand wear and weathering for 200 years. This icon can be applied to municipalities around the world that would benefit by installing these works of public art to clearly denote the critical locations for public safety within their emergency management places, regardless of region-specific threats.

 

Solution
Describe Your Solution: 

Evacuspots, paired with our citizen-assisted evacuation plan as the mission of evacuteer.org, creates a well-designed system that will reduce the effects of severe weather for the population by transporting residents to safety, and also giving those residents an organized and dignified option that will significantly prevent loss of life and trauma during this stressful process.

These solutions benefit our residents by serving as a prominent reminder of the CAE each day. Previously in New Orleans and throughout many evacuation routes in other cities, there is heavy reliance on street signage that may be difficult to locate or may be compromised during heavy wind and rain. There are additional concerns that may not be recognized by those who do not speak the same language, or may have difficulty reading. This solution breaks down the barriers of language and literacy to ensure that the statue is visible and that residents know where to meet.

Results
Economic?: 

We serve individuals who are at or below the poverty line. The fiscal cost for a family of four to evacuate is $250/day (Oxfam International) for travel, basic accommodations and food. Our free-and-public option eases the financial burden ensuring that access to safe and dignified evacuations is available to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. 

Total activation for the CAE is between $10-15 million. by utilizing citizen volunteers in activation, we save money, valuable staff time and resources in the amount of $22 per volunteer hour x500 volunteers for approximately 72 hours, saving a total of #792,000,00. (CNCS)

Environmental?: 

Our Evacuspots bridge the gap between residents and their knowledge of the CAE through public art and awareness campaigns to further ensure public safety throughout the city.

The environmental safety of New Orleans relies on a combination of the built and natural environment to create multiple lines of defense, that are further supported by cohesive public infrastructure, such as the New Orleans transit system, to mutually benefit all citizens.

Social?: 

Evacuteer.org works with residents to become trained in the CAE, empowering individuals while preventing them from becoming victims. We train and provide the tools necessary to benefit the community by exercising leadership in an emergency situation. By engaging and utilizing partner groups made up of non-profits, small businesses, Americorps, and religious groups, in 2014, we increased the number from 20 to 27, and were able to train and recertify 522 volunteers through combined efforts. This process creates resilience that minimizes the impacts of crises, and empowers communities to bounce back stronger, creating stronger social networks and participation in disaster preparedness.

What were the negative or unintended impacts (if any) associated with implementing this solution? : 

The unintended impact of our program is the increasing interest of outside governments, both national and international, in scaling and exporting Evacuteer's model of empowering citizen participation in evacuation, and the Evacuspot statues, to other municipalities. This year, we have met with and shared our best practices with seventeen State Department-sponsored delegations from four continents. Please see the link to a map demonstrating the location of the delegations: http://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z4cA4YeL_KPY.kXThWZb4419Q

Interest has led us to develop a means to export the Evacuspot statues and accompanying toolkit that discusses our mission, operations and methodology, programs and best practices, all of which have been carefully detailed by a CDC-funded evaluation.

Through a dedicated team of Tulane School of Social Work graduate student volunteers, we established our baseline for CAE awareness and utilization tracked through focus groups in order to produce end-line results that describe the efficacy of our programming. This toolkit includes IRB-approved datasets from emergency managers and policy makers and CAE users from every New Orleans neighborhood. The end goal will be to market and distribute this toolkit to future delegations and increase the impact of their-own municipality-organized evacuation plan.

Replication/Scale
Return on Investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?: 

The cost of implementation and installation of the 16 statues is approximately $8,850.00 per sign, including materials and fabrication, as well as site work and installation. In addition, there are also administrative fees, including an artist fee, site visits, studio space and insurance, which totaled $53,350.00. Our investment compares to the cost of another potential for a Category-3 storm or above, which we have to prepare for each year. Therefore, the investment is minimal compared to the nearly one thousand people who took to shelters of last resort such as the Superdome and Convention Center, is a necessary one that could prove to save potentially billions of dollars in response and recovery funding should severe flooding occur due to an event. The return on investment is in the visibility of statues, and we are assisting in a change of culture for those who may need it most to trust the city option to evacuate, and therefore potentially saving lives of those that would otherwise stary and perish or need to be rescued. Evacuteer.org maintains relationships with all representatives of the moving parts of this operating system, in order to achieve the goal of saving lives with preparedness, and in turn, save us from requiring an intricate and costly search and rescue response

 

 

What are the main factors needed to successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 

We are maximizing our best practises taken from the success of this public art solution to emergency preparedness to build a new marketable solution to offer both domestically and internationally. We will require interest from emergency managers and city officials who recognize a void in their emergency management plans that can prosper from the visibility our statues offer, and a willingness to invest in the sustainable opportunity to promote preparedness year-round. The formula for the statues is built and has been applied, and therefore we are able to recreate and ship it. What we need are the startup funds to begin the marketing process. We will also look at the site selection based on emergency plans that identify most vulnerable areas and assist in those. In terms of the amounts listed in the previous section, we will not have to spend the same amount on administrative fees as the initial creation of the statues is complete, lessening that amount. We would work with officials and their budget constraints to ensure maximum satisfaction.

Our Toolkit will include the data from the focus groups, potential funding formulas, community partnership recommendations, disaster management strategies, preparedness programming, and awareness events. The toolkit will be offered at no cost to the delegations or municipalities that request it.

Contest Info
Contest Name: 
Reducing Our Risk

Contest Partners

Contest Sponsors

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