Should I Stay or Should I Go: Evacuations in Missoula County

By NICK HOLLOWAY

During an emergency or a disaster, your family may need to evacuate to a safe location. In the excitement of an emergency, however, it can be difficult to focus on what you are doing. Take the time now to learn what to do to keep your family safe.

First, stay informed if there is a hazard that may result in an evacuation. Sign up to receive emergency alerts and monitor the local media for the latest information. Missoula County has a reverse emergency notification system called Smart911. While 9-1-1 already has the capability to alert people through landlines, Smart911 allows people to opt in to receive alerts through mobile phones, texts and/or emails. These modes of communication typically reach many more people than landlines alone. To sign up go to smart911.com and create your Safety Profile.

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Bonner Fire from Downtown Missoula. Photo by ©ErinStoner.

At times life safety is at potential risk, Missoula County officials will issue periodic announcements to advise the public of hazardous conditions. These advisements are typical for seasonal hazards such as floods or fires. When life safety is at risk, officials may issue an Evacuation Warning notifying affected households that they should begin making preparations to leave as conditions could change quickly.  If conditions do worsen, an Evacuation Order will be issued advising people to evacuate the area immediately. Access to the area would also be restricted until it is deemed safe to reenter.

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Bonner Fire from Grant Creek Neighborhood. Photo by ©TimBlodgett

It is important to be aware of what these stages mean and to be ready for action if conditions could require an Evacuation Order.  Should an evacuation order be issued, law enforcement will direct people to designated routes out of the area. For more information on family emergency plans and evacuations, please visit Missoula County’s Office of Emergency Management website.

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Picture5All disasters begin and end locally, often within the home. Prevention and preparation can go a long way to reduce negative human impacts. The Missoula County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) encourages Missouliansto:

1. Be informed. 2. Make a plan 3. Build a kit.

Follow OEM on Facebook and Twitter.
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Nick Holloway (2)Nick Holloway is Programs Coordinator at the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management (OEM). OEM includes the Missoula 9-1-1 Center and Disaster and Emergency Services, which assists and coordinates emergency response components of Missoula County and the City of Missoula.  Nick is passionate improving disaster preparedness and resilience in Missoula. Follow OEM on Facebook andTwitter.