Location: Seven-County Mid-Ohio Region, Ohio
Michael Baker International developed a coordinated plan for assisting populations with special mobility needs to evacuate the seven-county Central Ohio region, including the City of Columbus, in the event of a disaster. The plan framework was developed to be easily integrated into the existing emergency management plans maintained by each of the county emergency management agencies in the region. The final product is titled, The Planning Framework for the Evacuation of the Transportation-Needs Populations of Central Ohio. The project is one of two pilot programs funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in 2007 to examine evacuation issues of transportation-needs populations, following the evacuations in New Orleans and Houston due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These two evacuations, among the largest in U.S. history, exposed a number of shortcomings – the most hazardous being the lack of planning to expeditiously alert and evacuate special-needs residents. The goal of this two-year project was to develop a coordinated planning framework for working with populations that have transportation needs during a disaster. The framework for Central Ohio special mobility needs evacuation planning and the guidelines contained therein were developed based on Michael Baker's comprehensive, multilevel outreach initiative to encourage stakeholder and public participation in the planning process. Michael Baker sought to engage agencies and organizations that represent citizens with special mobility needs, such as the United Way, the Salvation Army, and other social service agencies; offices of aging; transit and paratransit operators; county and municipal emergency management and health agencies; and various state and federal agencies and organizations. Michael Baker's outreach planning effort entailed researching census data and hospital and nursing home population, paratransit use, and other information to identify and locate transportation-needs populations in the region and developing GIS mapping from this data.