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Pedestrian flow-path modeling to support tsunami evacuation and disaster relief planning in the U.S. Pacific Northwest

June 20, 2016

Successful evacuations are critical to saving lives from future tsunamis. Pedestrian-evacuation modeling related to tsunami hazards primarily has focused on identifying areas and the number of people in these areas where successful evacuations are unlikely. Less attention has been paid to identifying evacuation pathways and population demand at assembly areas for at-risk individuals that may have sufficient time to evacuate. We use the neighboring coastal communities of Hoquiam, Aberdeen, and Cosmopolis (Washington, USA) and the local tsunami threat posed by Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes as a case study to explore the use of geospatial, least-cost-distance evacuation modeling for supporting evacuation outreach, response, and relief planning. We demonstrate an approach that uses geospatial evacuation modeling to (a) map the minimum pedestrian travel speeds to safety, the most efficient paths, and collective evacuation basins, (b) estimate the total number and demographic description of evacuees at predetermined assembly areas, and (c) determine which paths may be compromised due to earthquake-induced ground failure. Results suggest a wide range in the magnitude and type of evacuees at predetermined assembly areas and highlight parts of the communities with no readily accessible assembly area. Earthquake-induced ground failures could obstruct access to some assembly areas, cause evacuees to reroute to get to other assembly areas, and isolate some evacuees from relief personnel. Evacuation-modeling methods and results discussed here have implications and application to tsunami-evacuation outreach, training, response procedures, mitigation, and long-term land use planning to increase community resilience.

Publication Year 2016
Title Pedestrian flow-path modeling to support tsunami evacuation and disaster relief planning in the U.S. Pacific Northwest
DOI 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2016.05.010
Authors Nathan J. Wood, Jeanne M. Jones, Mathew Schmidtlein, John Schelling, T. Frazier
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Index ID 70173967
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Geographic Science Center