Massachusetts is keeping a close eye on Danny—the first hurricane of the 2015 season. Cape Cod is particularly vulnerable, because so much of the Cape is low lying. Emergency management officials have identified such flood prone areas on the Cape and included them within the state’s hurricane evacuation zones.
With a limited route in and out of Cape Cod that is frequently backed up with traffic during the tourist season, officials are concerned about what could happen if a number of residents and tourists try to evacuate in advance of a hurricane or tropical storm. They designed the Cape Cod Emergency Traffic Plan (CCETP) to minimize traffic jams caused by large numbers of vehicles fleeing the Cape. The plan is designed for a variety of emergencies in addition to those posed by hurricanes.
Even if a powerful hurricane does threaten Cape Cod, it is extremely unlikely that officials would order an evacuation of the whole Cape. Most residents would be safe in their homes or in shelters except for those in the low-lying, flood prone coastal areas.
Emergency management officials developed the CCETP following the exodus caused by the Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency for Hurricane Edouard in 1996. People fled in such numbers that there was a 6-8 hour backup to drive off the Cape with the backup stretching an estimated 40 miles along Route 6.
Phase I of the plan is designed to eliminate congestion and keep traffic flowing when the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges are safe to cross. The US Army Corps of Engineers would activate Phase 2 in the case that bridges are not safe to travel in the event of high winds and inclement weather. The plan provides for temporary shelters at Camp Edwards.