The damage from Superstorm Sandy sustained on the Eastern Seaboard during the fall of 2012 serves as the latest important reminder that school districts and school bus companies must be prepared for natural disasters. During a natural disaster, school facilities and vehicles are at risk for damage and require protection in the form of an action plan. In addition, school buses may be needed for evacuation and should be prepared at all times to be available.
This is why it's essential for transportation directors and fleet managers to develop a comprehensive School Bus Flood Evacuation Program that includes the following elements:
- Arrange designated alternate locations on higher ground where vehicles can be moved; you may need more than one location depending on your fleet size.
- Establish a method to determine when the plan must be implemented, such as monitoring the weather channel. Don't wait until floodwaters are touching tires to determine a trigger point to activate the plan.
- Designate key personnel and their responsibilities, specifying who is responsible for monitoring conditions, initiating the plan and communicating during and after the situation.
- Create a plan to move the buses to safety, ensuring you have a sufficient number of properly licensed drivers to get the vehicles out in time.
- Implement a method of communication to alert drivers when they are needed and practice the plan at least once a year. Regular communications may be out of service, so establish an alternative mode.
- Once you have a written plan, make sure it is reviewed and understood by everyone involved and share it with school district officials to show you are prepared for this type of emergency.