Know Before You Have to Go

Understanding Emergency Evacuations

In depth look at how emergency evacuations are proclaimed and carried out with focus on terminology and how different counties handle emergencies.

The photo above shows emergency repair work being done on a San Joaquin River levee break near Manteca in February of 1996. The videos below tell you what you need to know in the event of such emergencies in the future. — Rich Turner photo. 

These two versions address four questions that continue to be asked by citizens, elected officials, and government personnel who may have a responsibilities during an evacuation.

The 7-minute Basic story gives a short response to each question. The 11-minute Extended story explores each question in depth and provides reference documents and mapping advances.

The four questions addressed are:

  • Who has the legal authority to order an evacuation, what rights or responsibilities do citizens have regarding whether to leave?
  • Who can implement an evacuation order?
  • How will communities be alerted?
  • What routes to take out of hazard areas?

The top video is the basic story with shorter responses to each question. The bottom video is the extended version.  

Meet the Authors

Michael Cockrell’s public service career has included law enforcement, water conservation enforcement, and emergency management. After 35-years at San Joaquin County’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), he retired as Director in December 2017. His OES experience between 1982-2017 included a wide range of emergencies and disasters such as floods, earthquake recovery, mass-casualty incidents, train derailments, hazardous materials releases, droughts, extreme heat and cold events. His education includes Associate and Bachelor degrees in Social Science, concentrating in Administration of Justice, and, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. He has also completed many continued-education courses on administration and emergency management. 

Guy Mallery was born in Maryland, just off the Chesapeake Bay. He studied at Stony Brook University in New York, and moved to California in 1995. Formerly with San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services (OES), Mr. Mallery’s Emergency Management experience ranges from Planning to Local Hazard Mitigation and Continuity of Operations (COOP). He is a past Flotilla Commander of the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Stockton unit, and currently serves in a leadership role as Vice Commander. He has also been a leader with Amateur Radio volunteers serving public agencies sine 1978. Mr. Mallery has been the Emergency Coordinator for ARES in San Joaquin County for many years, helping agencies such as the Red Cross, and the National Weather Service SkyWarn program in times of need. 

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