Public art with preparedness at heart: The Evacuspot

CDC_Bus1-2

From the CDC’s Public Health Matters blog:

It is Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I would like to take this time to introduce myself. I’m an EvacuSpot. I am a piece of public art with a purpose and a message. You will soon notice me on the city of New Orleans’ landscape. My journey has not been quick or easy, and I would not be ready to hit the streets of New Orleans without the support of those who care so much about our great city.  Oh wait, that’s jumping ahead.  Let me start from the beginning and tell you what I represent.

After Hurricane Katrina, City Assisted Evacuation (CAE) was created, tested, and then activated in response to Hurricane Gustav in 2008. The mandatory evacuation of the city for Hurricane Gustav went… okay. As with any response, there were some bumps and some lessons learned. However, volunteering at the bus terminal (in the midst of it all) was a young visionary, Robert Fogarty.

At the time the CAE was first activated, Robert Fogarty was an AmeriCorps volunteer serving in the Mayor’s office. His role required him to coordinate a large amount of volunteers suddenly needed and it was this experience that led to him creating the New Orleans-based non-profit called evacuteer.orgExternal Web Site Icon. You should check it out, if you have not already. Evacuteer.org assists the city by supplementing city programs (like the CAE) with voluntary efforts.  Sofia Curdumi, Program Manager of Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy and Executive Leadership Committee member of evacuteer.org, describes it as a “cool, renegade non-profit” she finds “refreshing on the New Orleans landscape.”

To get evacuteer.org off the ground, Fogarty says, “It took a series of events, luck, timing, and obtaining the buy-in of the right people.” But it wasn’t enough for Fogarty to develop a nonprofit that serves as a ready workforce for the city to assist those without transportation to evacuate when the call comes. Something else bothered him and that was that the thousands of New Orleanians signed up for the CAE were asked to report to one of the city’s 17 pick-up points currently marked by a city sign a tad larger than a No Parking sign. A test of the CAE system in 2008 found that most citizens did not know where to go in their neighborhood to wait for the bus.  These signs were forgettable, boring, and Fogarty figured, “New Orleans can do better than that.”

Read the complete post here.

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