January 17, 2024

Cassidy, Padilla Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Evacuation Route Planning

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced legislation to develop guidelines for state and local governments to improve emergency evacuation preparedness. The Emergency Vehicle and Community (EVAC) Planning Act would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to develop and publicly disseminate guidance and best practices for states, territories, Tribes, and local governments to utilize when conducting transportation infrastructure planning.

“Avoiding harm is part of weathering a storm,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Well maintained evacuation routes keep our communities safe ahead of hurricanes. Our bill creates guidelines for infrastructure planning to help save lives.”

“With wildfires, floods, and other disasters impacting our communities more frequently, Californians have seen firsthand the devastating consequences when emergency evacuation routes are overwhelmed,” said Senator Padilla. “Yet far too often, smaller, rural, and Tribal governments lack crucial tools for disaster preparedness planning. Well-planned emergency evacuation routes can be the difference between life and death. We must equip our communities with the tools to effectively develop these routes.”

The EVAC Planning Act is endorsed by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) and National Association of Counties (NACo).

“The provision of guidelines to help communities implement emergency response protocols would not only help strengthen regional transportation planning efforts, but would also help bolster public safety in the event of a disaster. This exciting legislation also has great potential to improve long-term community economic recovery,” said Joe McKinney, Executive Director, National Association of Development Organizations.

“When disasters strike, county officials and emergency responders play a critical role in immediate and long-term efforts to help our communities respond and recover,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The bipartisan Emergency Vehicle and Community Planning Act would provide us with additional insights into developing and implementing evacuation routes to keep our residents safe before, during and after a disaster. We thank Senators Padilla and Cassidy for introducing this legislation and urge its swift passage.”