Evacuate or else?
August 30, 2005 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Are there any penalties for those ignoring a mandatory evacuation?

I know that there has been several hurricane threads, but I didn't see this addressed in any of them. There was a "mandatory evacuation" order for New Orleans (except for those performing certain critical public functions). You were either supposed to leave the town, and if you didn't have the means to leave town or could not for any reason, you were told to go to the Superdome.

Now I understand that they couldn't go in and drag people out and put them on the buses. But, if those people that refused to evacuate end up having to be rescued later on, they are using valuable resources (coast guard's time, money, and equipment) that can be better utilized somewhere else, not to mention putting the life of the rescuers to risk.

Do they get billed for the costs of their rescue? Are there other sanctions for those people that ignored the order?

If there are no sanctions what makes an evacuation "mandatory" vs. "we really really think you should and would appreciate it if you do"?
posted by tuxster to Law & Government (17 answers total)
I understood that there was nothing they could do but persuade you (and as, a guardsman on tv said, most people are persuaded by lots of guys with guns), adn that there were no reprecussions. Now with martial law, I presume that they can just haul you away and deal with you later.
posted by loquax at 12:52 PM on August 30, 2005

Honestly I think people that ignored the order and ended up needing to get rescued should be billed for it.
posted by JJ86 at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2005

JJ86: If you don't have a car, and there is no public transport out of the city, what exactly are you supposed to do? Most of the peopel who didn't leave new orleans simply were not able to.
posted by delmoi at 1:01 PM on August 30, 2005

loquax writes "repercussions" --> that was the word I was looking for! It was on the tip of my tongue but I just couldn't come up with it when posting the question. Sigh...

JJ86, that's my personal feeling as well. The coast guard could have already been working on preventing further damage and cleaning up, but instead they are spending hours and hours trying to find and rescue these people...

(on preview) delmoi: my understanding is that the city had several shuttles going from the various neighbourhoods to the Superdome and the mayor urged everyone to get to the superdome if they couldn't get out of town.
posted by tuxster at 1:05 PM on August 30, 2005

The text of the mandatory evacuation order mentions that it was issued in accordance with Louisiana Revised Statue 29:727. That statue authorizes the following:
"In the event of an emergency declared by the parish president pursuant to this Chapter, any person or representative of any firm, partnership, or corporation violating any order, rule, or regulation promulgated pursuant to this Chapter, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or confined in the parish jail for not more than six months, or both."
posted by RichardP at 1:06 PM on August 30, 2005

I don't believe that they will get billed for their rescue. As delmoi said, some of these people are very poor, elderly, crippled, etc. Unless someone came by and threw them on a bus, they weren't moving. Also, do you prosecute someone for not having a TV? Some people, very few, might not have even known what was coming.

One question I've had is: What about looters? Especially those that have been photographed. Will they be prosecuted? I've heard that at times it is acceptable (from the standpoint of the local police force) to allow looting. This is because some residents actually need food and supplies, and that some goods would spoil, etc. However, it still seems like stealing to me. Especially when you read about people taking stuff from clothing stores (like ten pairs of jeans and so on).

Please, no "well, Rumsfeld wouldn't have cared! LOL!!" or, "well, these people have been so oppressed for so long, this is their justice!!"

Simply, does anyone know what the precedent is for prosecuting known looters, and will this happen in NO?
posted by billysumday at 1:12 PM on August 30, 2005

billysumday writes "I've heard that at times it is acceptable (from the standpoint of the local police force) to allow looting. This is because some residents actually need food and supplies, and that some goods would spoil, etc."

CNN showed ATM machines in supermarkets that were broken into... Of course, one could argue that paper money could spoil under extremely wet conditions, such as a flood...
posted by tuxster at 1:22 PM on August 30, 2005

What about looters?

I read that either the governor or the mayor (can't find the link now) said that looters would be "punished as severely as the law allowed" and that they would be dealt with "ruthlessly".
posted by loquax at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2005

With the looters, when they catch them they put warrants into the computer them and it'll catch up with them later.
posted by SpecialK at 2:58 PM on August 30, 2005

On the news this morning the anchor said that those who refused to evacuate were forced to sign disclaimers stating they understood it would be too dangerous for rescuers to come and save them. It seems to me if you refuse to evacuate you won't have to pay for your rescue...because nobody's coming to get you.

That said, they did not clarify whether rescue attempts made after the storm had passed would be counted under the initial signed form.
posted by ebeeb at 4:23 PM on August 30, 2005

As I understand from news report most of the people who didn't get out had no way out. If there were buses available to get them to the Superdome and all of them had taken them it would have been a horrible mistake. Imagine say 80,000 people stuck in the superdome during the storm or 80,000 people stuck there now.

As for looting. If people are looting for food and necessities, then I could not care less.

I can't imagine trying to bill people for rescue after they've had their lives destroyed by an act of nature. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't go over too well with the electorate of Louisiana.
posted by rdr at 4:39 PM on August 30, 2005

Many insurance policies won't pay out if you were committing a crime when the injury occured. Anyone know if life insurance policies are the same?
posted by Mitheral at 6:33 PM on August 30, 2005

I'm sure there has been some looting, but I saw a pic on TV this morning of a "looter". It was a guy up to his armpits in (dirty, possibly disease-contaminated) water, carrying a bag of paper diapers and something small I couldn't see well.

Yeah, you can always say he should have bought diapers before the storm hit, but geez. If he broke into someplace, with all the goods that were available he could have stolen, and all he took was a package of diapers? I hope they use some common sense when they start executing folks publicly for "looting". Maybe he left a note on the register that he would pay for it later, for all we know. I'd sure hate to see a guy shot over something that cost 5$.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:54 PM on August 30, 2005

From the reports that I saw none of the people rescued were old and incapable of getting out. But for speculation's sake let's say you were old, didn't have a car or a tv, and had a hard time getting around. Unless you were in the middle of nowhere, you still had neighbors. Let's say you saw all your neighbors loading up their station wagons and hauling ass out of there? What would you assume? Do you think you would try and call someone, at the very least 911 or your local priest and find out if this is the end times?

Also, 99.9999% of old, frail people have someone checking in on them so they don't up and die some fine day. Do you think during a known evacuation of the area, someone wouldn't go get gramps so he didn't die?

Poor people without cars generally live in areas of the city with easy reach of public transport. If you see a storm approaching and a cop car is crawling down the street saying that this is an evacuation order and that everyone must leave? What is your first thought if you are concerned about your life or your family's life?
posted by JJ86 at 1:50 AM on August 31, 2005

I've heard a lot of people on television say that they couldn't go to a shelter because they didn't have 3 days of food and water. What this some sort of rumor that spread around or was it a requirement?
posted by missmerrymack at 4:45 AM on August 31, 2005

Sorry - "Was this some sort of rumor..."
posted by missmerrymack at 4:51 AM on August 31, 2005

What about looters? Especially those that have been photographed. Will they be prosecuted?

After the '92 riots in Los Angeles, the LAPD was requesting videotapes of looters, in order to bring charges. At this point the NOPD is overwhelmed, but eventually those store owners will be demanding retribution.
posted by Rash at 8:56 AM on August 31, 2005

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