Hurricane Evacuation Explained: Voluntary vs. Mandatory

At 4pm Thursday, August 25th Town of Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden issued a proclamation for a voluntary evacuation of the island due to expected weather conditions from Hurricane Irene.

Voluntary evacuation is a common response to severe tropical and hurricane storm weather, but to some the terminology may seem a bit ambiguous.  So, we reached out to Town Hall representatives for official clarification.

Below is a summary, but you can see the full response and excerpt from the Town’s Emergency Operations Plan and Code of Ordinances:

Voluntary Evacuation – A Voluntary Evacuation Proclamation is issued “when a hurricane warning has been issued [by the National Weather Service] and landfall is expected in the Town’s coastal area.”

Mandatory Evacuation – A Mandatory Evacuation Proclamation is issued when a state of emergency has been declared to exist that “endangers the lives, safety, health, and/or welfare of the people within the town or any part thereof, or a situation threatening damage to or destruction of property”.

Of course, when making these decisions, Town of Holden Beach Officials evaluate the situation based on information supplied by local, state, and federal response agencies to insure the safety of citizens.

Hopefully this helps clarify any questions out there.  We’ll continue to get as much information about the storm and it’s effects over the coming days.

Official Response:

We follow the Town’s Emergency Operations Plan and the Code of Ordinances (below). Condition II is when a hurricane warning has been issued and landfall is expected in the Town’s coastal area. Condition I is when the mayor issues the evacuation order. This can happen during or after Condition II. The Mayor makes his decision based on the information supplied to us by local, state and federal response agencies. The Police Chief assesses the need to close the bridge based on sustained wind speeds. Does this help?

§ 33.02 MAYOR TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY.
(A) A state of emergency shall be declared to exist whenever deemed appropriate to protect lives, property, or to provide for the public safety in the event a disaster threatens the town.
(B) In the event of an existing or threatening emergency which endangers the lives, safety, health, and/or welfare of the people within the town or any part thereof, or a situation threatening damage to or destruction of property, the Mayor is hereby authorized and empowered under G.S. §§ 166A-8 and 14-288.12, as amended, to issue a public proclamation declaring to all persons the existence of a local state of emergency, and, in order to more effectively protect the lives and property of people within the town, shall place in effect as the situation dictates the Town Emergency Preparedness Plan, to activate mutual assistance compacts and to authorize the furnishing of assistance thereunder.
(’85 Code, § 18-1.1) (Ord. 27, passed – – )
(C) Upon the official declaration of a state of emergency, the Town’s Emergency Management Director shall establish an emergency operations center and establish an Incident Command System (ICS) as set forth in the Town’s Emergency Preparedness Plan. That plan shall become the guiding document until the ICS is stood down.

Josh was born with sand between his feet and salt air in his lungs. As a kid, you could have found him riding his bike to old Jeff's Grocery for a few candy treats or merrily working the checkout counter at Beach Mart.