Mandatory or Voluntary Evacuation.
Case Study—Mandatory or Voluntary Evacuation?
The town of Fort Rice, North Dakota is located on the western bank of the Missouri River. A farming and
ranching community, Fort Rice’s residents are known for their tenacity in fighting the weather—and the river—
to earn a living. It has been raining for 12 hours, and the National Weather Service has forecast severe
flooding conditions through most of the upper Midwest. The Missouri River and the rivers and streams that feed
it are on the rise and are expected to continue to rise over the next several days as the storm is held in place
by a large high-pressure area that is currently stationary over the Ohio Valley. Despite the fact that
sandbagging crews have been supporting all local levies, severe flooding is a near certainty. The mayor and all
emergency management professionals from Fort Rice have been keeping abreast of the situation since before
the rain began. They have been communicating with the local Weather Forecast Office, as well as county and
State emergency management personnel. The question on the table at this point is not whether to issue an
evacuation order but whether to make the evacuation voluntary or mandatory. Historically, farmers and
ranchers have been unwilling to evacuate, even when flooding is severe. Most have grown up in the area and
are aware of the damage that flooding can cause, but they are also aware of their investment in their land and
livestock and will fight to save what they can. After some very passionate debates and discussion, the mayor,
with the emergency management group’s concurrence, makes the decision to activate the Emergency Alert
System and issue the evacuation order. But although they decide to word the message strongly, they do not
make the evacuation mandatory.
(1) What are some of the potential implications, consequences of making the order NON-mandatory?
(2) Are the magnitudes of your consequences serious enough to challenge and change the order to
mandatory? Explain your consequences and their magnitude/seriousness? (Remember…people’s lives, young
and old, are at stake.)
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