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  • Writer's picturejeannettesutton

**Evacuation Warning** but for flash flood

(click image to enlarge)

Hurricane Hilary Emergency Alert

WEA issued in advance of #Hilary for the CA desert

The folks at the Editor's Desk have written a LOT about the use of wildfire trigger language, explaining why it is jargon and how jargon can be unclear to the message receiver. Here, we point out why this is such a dangerous habit to get into.

With wildfire, a precedent has been set for varying levels of evacuation - a warning means to get ready to evacuate; an order means evacuation is requested/required for all residents. Evacuation is the guidance- warning and order is the trigger to prepare or to take action (respectively). But what do you do with an evacuation warning for flooding? In this message, posted anonymously (e.g., there is no source included in this message - so who's to say who it is coming from?), we see that three populations in the California desert are under an "evacuation warning." They live in low-lying areas that are likely to flood when #Hilary begins to dump rain. What does evacuation warning mean in this case? Does it mean that people should prepare to leave? Does it mean that they should leave immediately? Does it mean that they should leave when they are ordered to leave?

Has there been any public education to train this population about the meaning of these words?

We might suggest an edit to replace the words **Evacuation Warning** and instead say **PREPARE TO LEAVE** or ** Prepare to EVACUATE** and explain what people can do to get ready. For instance, the sender could provide a list of things that should be collected and explain where people should drive to (if they have vehicles) when it is time to go. And, maybe even offer names of places that are at high enough elevation that evacuees will be safer, should they need to evacuate.

However, we do want to note that in this case, perhaps a greater danger with the use of *Evacuation Warning* is that once the flooding has begun, it's not going to be safe to drive. So preparing to shelter in place would be an equally important action to recommend.


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