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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

Leaving New Orleans

The New Orleans area has a limited road system which floods easily.  You may decide to leave town before dangerous weather happens.  We recommend that you evacuate before it is recommended and leave as early as possible.

If a mandatory evacuation is ordered, all citizens must leave.

Deciding when to leave

The hurricane wind scale uses wind speeds to place hurricanes into groups or categories.  The faster the wind moves, the more damage a hurricane can cause.

  • If you live in a mobile home or trailer, evacuate for Category 1
  • If you live on the coast, evacuate for Category 2
  • If you live inland, evacuate for Category 3
  • Listen to the radio or watch TV for updates on the storm.

Prepare not only for mandatory evacuatation for larger storms, but also for prolonged Sheltering-In-Place in smaller ones, with only whatever supplies you have on hand, and possibly without water and/or power. 

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What is the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?

A hurricane watch means dangerous weather could happen and a warning means dangerous weather will happen.

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What is Contraflow?

Contraflow is when both sides of the interstate are used for drivers to evacuate an area.  In other words, traffic no longer flows two ways on the highway; you can only go one way (out of the City.)  If you plan to evacuate with your own vehicle, study contraflow maps ahead of time, in order to understand where you will and will not be able to go.  You cannot enter some cities from the interstate during contraflow.  Some interstate exits will close.  You must stay on the interstate until you reach a major city like Baton Rouge.

Click here for a map of contraflow, and here for written instructions for how major road around New Orleans will alter during contraflow, and where you will be able to exit. For close up maps showing the I-10 entrance at Williams Boulevard, Clearview Boulevard and Veteran's Boulevard, click here.  

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Estimated evacuation drive times

During an evacuation, estimate that it will take you about 4 times as long as it usually does to travel to your destination.  Avoiding traffic by leaving early can cut gas costs in half.  If you cannot leave early, plan to spend 50 cents per mile on gas.

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If you are unable to evacuate on your own

The City of New Orleans provides transportation assistance for all who have no means of transportation to leave the City of New Orleans or who have physical limitations that keep them from getting out.  During a mandatory evacuation, the City picks up citizens from one of 17 evacuspots, located around the City, and brings them to the Union Pacific Terminal.  From there, citizens will leave by bus for locations outside the danger zone.  

Those with medical issues must register for the Special Needs Registry to assessed by the Department of Health to ensure the can City provide the medical transportation needed.

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Where are the evacuspot pick-up points?

There are 17 evacuspot locations spread across the City. Four of these evacuspots are designated for Senior Citizens, and include increased resources specifically to help seniors and those with minor medical issues evacuate.

Click here to see a map of evacuspots and find directions to the closest one to you. 

Lakeview: Smith Library Bus Stop, 6300 Canal Blvd. (Nearby Zip Codes: 70124)

West Carrollton: Palmer Park, S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton (Nearby Zip Codes: 70118, 70125)

Broadmoor: McMain High School, 5712 S. Claiborne Ave. (Nearby Zip Codes: 70125, 70115, 70118)

Irish Channel: Lyons Community Center, 624 Louisiana Ave. (Nearby Zip Codes: 70115, 70130)

Central City: Dryades YMCA, 1924 Philip Street (Nearby Zip Codes: 70113, 70115, 70130)

Tremé: Warren Easton High School, 3019 Canal Street (Nearby Zip Codes: 70119, 70112)

7th Ward: Municipal Auditorium, 801 N. Rampart (Nearby Zip Codes: 70116, 70112)

Algiers: O. Perry Walker High School, 2832 General Meyer (Nearby Zip Codes: 70114)

Bywater: Stallings Community Center, 4300 St. Claude (Nearby Zip Codes: 70117) 

Gentilly: Gentilly Mall Parking Lot, Chef Menteur and Press Drive (Nearby Zip Codes: 70126, 70122)

New Orleans East: Walgreens, Lake Forest and Read Boulevard (Nearby Zip Codes: 70127, 70126, 70129)

New Orleans East: Mary Queen of Vietnam, 14001 Dwyer (Zip Codes: 70129)

SENIOR PICK-UP LOCATION (Algiers): Arthur Mondy Center, 1111 Newton Avenue (Nearby Zip Codes: 70114)

SENIOR PICK-UP LOCATION (Lower Garden District): Kingsley House, 1600 Constance Street (Nearby Zip Codes: 70130, 70115)

SENIOR PICK-UP LOCATION (Carrollton): Mater Dolorosa, 1226 S. Carrollton Ave. (Nearby Zip Codes: 70118, 70125, 70115)

SENIOR PICK-UP LOCATION (Central City): Central City Senior Center, 2101 Philip St (Nearby Zip Codes: 70113, 70130, 70115)  

Click here for a map of all pick-up points


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How do I locate shelters once I have left the City? 

You can find out where shelter are during an emergency at one of the shelter information points in Louisiana. You can find these locations on the Get a Game Plan website or by calling the American Red Cross at toll-free number, (866) GET-INFO or (866) 438-4636.

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Leaving town with your pets

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has to evacuate pets.  That does not mean you can take your pet with you anywhere you go.  It means the government has to keep your pet safe during an emergency.

For health reasons, human shelters do not allow pets, but some have pet shelters next to them.  Call the Humane Society of Louisiana to find a pet shelter and get more information on pets and emergencies here.

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Emergency alert radio stations

In your emergency kit we recommend you keep hand-held radio so you can hear updates from stations like WWL 870AM in case your phone dies or your electricity fails.

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Trailer and mobile home safety

Those living in trailers or mobile homes face greater risk of damage to their property and their lives.  You should evacuate for any storm, and are required to evacuate during a Category 3, 4 or 5 storm.  Before leaving:

  • shutter windows
  • shut off fuel lines but DO NOT disconnect them
  • turn off water where it enters the home
  • secure outdoor items inside
  • use both types of ties to secure your home – “over the top” and “frame ties.”

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Evacuation and pregnancy

Pregnant women should take special caution during a disaster, and if possible, evacuate early and even if the city does not require a mandatory evacuation. Smaller storms can still knock out power for prolonged periods of time.

Don’t do too much during a disaster.  It is important to adjust your pace when you are pregnant.

  • Ask your doctor for the name and phone number of a doctor where you will be evacuating.
  • Take a copy of your health record.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Do not lift heavy items.
  • Do not travel alone and take turns driving.
  • Try to walk around every hour.
  • Take time to eat and drink – bring snacks and water with you.
  • Don’t take any medication not prescribed for you.

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Evacuating with elders and special needs patients

Caregivers and those with special needs, disabilities, or advanced age should keep in mind the special physical, health and emotional needs that elders have during an evacuation.  These populations should plan to leave as early possible to avoid laborious waits in traffic and further discomforts that come with a late evacuation

  • Ask for a copy of nursing home or hospital evacuation plans and contact information.
  • It is better to stay with family or friends if possible.  State shelters should be a last resort for the elderly
  • Plan ahead with family members, friends, or register for the Special Needs Registry for transportation assistance out of town
  • Include the elderly in family planning discussions

Read more about emergency planning as or with the elderly or those with minor medical needs

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Links to airport, train and bus information

New Orleans International Airport

(504) 303-7500 | Website
900 Airline Drive  Kenner, LA 70062 (map)

New Orleans Greyhound Station

(504) 525-6075 | Website
1001 Loyola Ave, New Orleans, LA 70114 (map)

New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (Amtrak)

(800) 872-7245 | Website
1001 Loyola Ave, New Orleans, LA 70114 (map)

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Why you must evacuate New Orleans during a storm

New Orleans is not like any other city in the world.  Because of its unusual geography, it is much more likely to take damage during a storm that will result in extreme loss of life, injury and property damage.

The city lies below sea level.  It was built on swampland hundreds of years ago and due to weather, climate changes, and erosion, the city has sunk.  This makes New Orleans like a bowl. The reason it does not flood every day is because of levees, which are high walls and floodgates that prevent water from entering the City. During normal rainfall, pumps in the sewers remove water from the streets.

During a mandatory evacuation, all citizens are required to leave, and the City will not have shelters within Orleans Parish. hotels will close, businesses will close and curfew put in place to prevent theft. All people are expected to leave and those who stay may be arrested if they leave their homes.

If the Mayor declares an emergency evacuation, you must leave to protect your own health and safety, as well as those around you, including first responders and volunteers.

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I’m a tourist and I need to leave town

First, contact your airline or car rental company to arrange emergency transportation out of town.  If you do not have transportation, you can go to a staging center at the Sheraton Hotel (500 Canal Street) or the Harrah’s Casino (8 Canal Street) to take a bus to the airport.  You will be met by airline staff who will help you arrange a ticket out of town.

Click here to learn more about the New Orleans Tourism and Convention Center Bureau’s Tourism Crisis Management Plan.

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Last updated: 8/30/2013 10:20:47 AM

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