Speaking from a law enforcement perspective, I wish folks who might have to evacuate an area would have some kind of plan in place before it's needed, rather than winging it while palm trees sail past your ears.
Folks, it is a fact of life: during a large-scale evacuation people are going to get separated and lost. You can not avoid it.
Another fact of life: during a large-scale evacuation, I, and every other public safety employee, will have more on our plates than we can handle as it is. Us finding your lost kith and kin is probably not going to happen: you are going to have to do it.
Let me repeat that for the liberals: During an evacuation I won't have the time, I won't have the resources, and I won't have the capability to locate your missing.
Welcome to the Real World, you are On Your Own and we'll see what we can do when things settle down.
This becomes particularly important if you are part of a large, or extended, family which may or may not be evacuating at the same time.
First off, have a place to evacuate to, and I'll tell you right now that 'away' is an unacceptable destination.
I would strongly suggest that your destination point not be involved in any way with any kind of government disaster strategy. While going to a government shelter may sound like a good idea -- if you're totally and completely gormless -- be advised that any government emergency shelter will probably have some utterly bloody stupid rules. No pets. No guns. Required donation of any foodstuffs. No leaving at will. That kind of thing.
So. You have decided upon a destination in the advent of an evacuation. Now, kindly be sure that everyone involved knows where you're supposed to go. This sounds simplistic, but nobody should ever have to ask the question, "Does (Insert Name Here) know we're going to (Insert Destination Here)?" followed by the famous reply, "Uhhh...I don't know."
Tell everyone, and then tell them again. You may even want to write it down and stick it to any available fridge doors belonging to the people whom you have told.
And while we're on this subject: KINDLY INFORM THE FOLKS AT THE DESTINATION AHEAD OF TIME, IF YOU PLEASE. Like, now. Yes.
Don't count on comm lines being open to allow you to contact your destination people 10 minutes before you depart. And, while I'm sure that they're going to be delighted to put you up for a weekend (in Katrina days that could be years), common courtesy demands that they have some kind of warning that y'all might be on the way.
Now. Drive the route, and while you're doing so, look around you and imagine it occupied by how-ever-many thousand people are in your city/county/metropolitan area -- all with evacuation in mind, but unprepared and panic-prone.
Those overpasses. Can you get around them if they're blocked? Same with any bridges -- how will you get around them if they're rendered unpassable? Secondary routes?
Secondary routes get interesting, because of the next thing I'm going to seriously suggest you do: Put a box of gallon-sized Ziplock bags, a box of 3X5 cards and two or three waterproof markers in everyones evac kit.
Rally Points. Also called Rendezvous Point, Check Points, Way Points or any other number of names. I want you to take a good hairy eyeball at the route between Here and There. At normal speed, under normal conditions, I want y'all to find easily seen, easily accesible (but out-of-the-way) spots no more than an hour apart on the route.
Stress to each family member that if -- for whatever reason -- they can't continue to evac on their own and have to stop, that they are to only stop at a Rally Point. Read that part over again.
If you're in a congested area, you might give consideration to locating these spots a normal half-hour apart, instead of an hour. If you're in wide-open rural areas, you may want to extend the spacing to two or even three hours each. Up to you, really.
Again, you make sure that everyone knows where the Rally Points are.
The way the Rally Point System works is simple. Let us imagine that you are part of an extended family and Mother Nature has decided to open a can of whoop-arse on your home turf. Your extended family is smarter than some, and y'all promptly get into the wind.
The first person, or group, to get to the first Rally Point takes a 3x5 card, writes down the date and time in waterproof marker, along with the name (Very Important, don't forget this) of each person in the group and a description of the vehicle(s) they're in.
This goes into a Ziplock bag and it is put somewhere at the Rally Point that a stranger isn't likely to glom onto it and use it for a notepad or bog paper. Since you have wisely located each Rally Point just-a-bit-off-the-path, this shouldn't be too hard.
The first party then continues on, doing the same at each Rally Point until they are forced to stop (at a Rally Point) or they get to the destination. Each following person or group fills out their own 3x5 card at each Rally Point and adds it to the Ziplock bag.
"But, LawDog," I hear you say, "This seems like an awful lot of trouble."
You are correct. It is an awful lot of trouble. If you're planning on skiting out on your own, or with just enough people to fit in one or two cars, then Rally Points aren't for you.
However if you have a large number of family (that you care about) and/or friends (that you care about) who may not be evacuating at the same time, or from the same place, you need to consider something like this.
So. Here we have the Frickert Clan and associated friends. They have evacuated
X-number of knuckle-dragging monsters are picked, they jump into a jeep and head back along the evac route, while the rest of the Frickert Clan is firmly ordered to remain at the destination point and not to expand the problem any further by haring off.
The knuckle-draggers check each Rally Point in reverse order, and when they find the one where Grandma and Grandpa last signed in, they have a firm known last location, and they know that Grandma and Grandpa are in the 1977 Dodge Dart -- blue in colour.
This allows them to carefully check downstream from that Rally Point and locate Grandma and Grandpa high-centred in the bar-ditch, pull them out and send them on the way with a knuckle-dragger to do the rest of the driving.
Continuing along the evac route, the rescue crew discovers that the stress of the disaster, plus dealing with three-month old triplets, is sending Emily into shock.
Fortunately, she remembered that if she couldn't get any further she was to head for a Rally Point and stay there. With that goal to keep panic at bay, Emily has managed to get to a Rally Point, and it's only a matter of time before the knuckle-draggers show up -- no muss, no fuss, no extended searches -- Emily gets reassured, a cooler head does the driving, and everyone in the Frickert Clan is safe.
Something to think about, folks.