What is the legal basis for a mandatory evacuation order?

What were the terms of the mandatory evacuation orders in place along the Gulf Coast? Would authorities actually remove people from their homes, against their will? How is that not a warrantless seizure?

Or am I misunderstanding “mandatory”?

Note: I’m not trying to argue that the evacuation orders were unwise. I’m just curious about the underlying legalities.

This letter written by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar reviews the cases: http://www.larimer.org/emergency/emergency_detail.cfm?nam_id=21

This letter written by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar reviews the cases: http://www.larimer.org/emergency/emergency_detail.cfm?nam_id=21

This letter written by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar reviews the cases: http://www.larimer.org/emergency/emergency_detail.cfm?nam_id=21

This letter written by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar reviews the cases: http://www.larimer.org/emergency/emergency_detail.cfm?nam_id=21

All legal forms must be filed in triplicate.

Interesting. The Salazar letter suggests that the authorities will not actually forcibly evacuate someone, but they reserve the right to later prosecute anyone who does not evacuate, at least if they obstruct public safety officials. That seems to suggest that if one merely hunkers down in one’s home, legal consequences are unlikely.

Most states have laws allowing the government, under its broad police powers, to evacuate or close off areas of the state in emergencies. If a governor declares martial law, it can be even more stringent. Courts tend to defer to the judgment of state executive-branch officials in crises, especially where a substantial loss of life may otherwise result.

Our state police have a policy in place to hand Sharpies to the holdouts and instruct them to write their Social Security number on their limbs and torso, so that they can be identified later.

That usually gets people to budge.

Makes sense though - what’s a better use of an LEO’s time - forcibly dragging a person out of their home who doesn’t want to go, transporting them out of the evacuation zone, etc., or moving on to the next 50 homes who may not have gotten the evacuation order?

I’ve been through a few hurricanes, including Andrew and we were supposed to forcibly evacuate, but they never enforced it. I was on a barrier island and the officer told me I had to go NOW. I told him that the bridge will close at 7am and I will be off the island by then.

Then at 5:30am I heard they closed the bridge off the island, and sure enough I couldn’t get off. Obviously nothing happened but in every case of this mandatory evactuation, they don’t appear to be at all eager to force anyone off.

The only thing the officers DID stress and they stressed it GREATLY was that calls to 911 would NOT be responded to, so if you got hurt, or had a heart attack it was too bad, the ambulance wouldn’t come.

But in all my dealings with the mandatory rule, they never gave anything more than a polite “get off,” and they certainly never followed up on it.

[Devils’ Advocate]

This is all fine and dandy, until you actually do need help and then you’ve imperiled LEOs or Firefighters’ lives in order to save your own. You’re obstructing a firefighting operation by diverting available firefighters and resources to come save you, instead of them building a firebreak [sub]or some other such activity[/sub].

Of course, it doesn’t really matter if you’re “Civilian Wellington” in your own home already (i.e. your arse is well done with a side of lemony-herbed potatoes), or by luck your property avoids the catastrophe altogether. But, should they find you, I would think it could be construed as ‘obstruction’.

Then again, in the military, we have “Failure to Obey an Order” as part of the UCMJ. I wonder if other states could invoke whatever rules they have on that too. . .

[/Devils’ Advocate]

Tripler
Wind & Water: I’d hunker down–I can swim. Fire: ehhhh, I’ll barbecue somewhere else.

To add a slight hijack, the Houston Emergency Operations Center has a catch-phrase for hurricane evacuations:
hide from the wind, run from the water

Mandatory evacuation zones are storm surge areas for various categories of storm. A significant cause (one of many) of the evacuation debacle following Rita were evacuees from wind threatened areas clogging the highways.

Storm surges can be very destructive (see Galveston, 1900), Phelpsian swimming abilities might not be enough.