Officials want to have 'evacuation summit'

Published by on March 25, 2005
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NEW ORLEANS An "evacuation summit," exploring ways to increase the public's response to calls for hurricane evacuation, will be conducted soon by emergency management and public safety leaders from Lee and Charlotte counties and the city of Cape Coral.

The meeting was suggested Thursday at the National Hurricane Conference here, said Wayne Sallade, director of emergency management for Charlotte County.

The idea came from Cape Coral Fire Chief Bill Van Helden, who is also Cape Coral's head of emergency management, after a morning workshop on evacuation decision-making. The session showed that too few Floridians heeded the call to flee the four hurricanes that socked the state in 2004, Sallade said.

John Wilson, who is public safety director of Lee County and also chairs the conference, will be the third summit member.

No date has been set, Sallade said.

At a separate session on evacuation, Robert E. Deyle, professor of urban and regional planning at Florida State University, said evacuation would be less necessary if growth were curbed. But that isn't happening, he said.

Deyle presented a study that showed between 1990 and 2002, development has increased, not decreased.

In Lee, Volusia and Gulf counties, the mean number of residential units, the assessed value of those units and the permanent population have all gone up more than 20 percent in the sections of the county labeled Coastal High Hazard Areas, or category one evacuation zones, Deyle said. In Lee County, that zone can stretch from the coast eastward to U.S. 41.

Moving further inland, Lee County averages 35 percent or more growth for areas labeled Hurricane Vulnerability Zones or category 3 evacuation zones in mean number of residential units, assessed value, and increase in permanent population, Deyle said.

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