Campus Residential Evacuation Plan

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose

Because of its proximity to the coastline, the MBL campus has a greater potential for the impact of severe coastal storms, including hurricanes and winter nor'easters.  The near sea-level elevation of the Woods Hole campus is almost entirely within flood inundation zones determined by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) - even for a Category I or II hurricane.  As a result, the Woods Hole campus is located within Evacuation Zone A by MEMA, which designates those areas that may flood first from storm surge during a tropical storm or hurricane.

The MBL cottages located at Memorial Circle and Devil's Lane are at a higher elevation and are less likely to experience flooding from a storm surge.  However, these buildings are light structures and not considered safe for occupancy in the event of extreme winds associated with such storms.

In addition to a severe weather event, although remote, this MBL Campus Residential Evacuation Plan is applicable for other natural disasters (such as earthquake or tsunami), nuclear accident, large scale chemical spill or gas release, military attacks or viral outbreaks. This MBL Campus Residential Evacuation Plan establishes procedures for the Incident Management Team and other key personnel in the event that campus emergency requires evacuation of all or a portion of the MBL residential community. 

This Plan is a component of the MBL Emergency Management Plan, which describes the overall management structure and communications processes that are employed by the MBL in any emergency situation.

The objectives of this MBL Campus Residential Evacuation Plan are to:

  1. Reduce risk to personal safety through awareness, timely decision-making, and advance preparation;
  2. Ensure the safe and efficient evacuation of residents in MBL housing in the event of a major weather event or other regional disaster.
  3. Provide continuous communication with MBL residents throughout the evacuation process.
  4. Know where evacuated residents are located at all times.
  5. Safeguard personal property of residents in the event of an evacuation.
  6. Enable the orderly and expeditious return of residents to the campus following the emergency.
  7. Coordinate actions of support units of the MBL and public agencies.

1.2 Scope

This MBL Campus Residential Evacuation Plan provides specific procedures for the evacuation of the MBL residential community in the event of a campus-wide emergency, including people living in (a) MBL facilities in the Woods Hole campus, (b) MBL Cottages, and (c) other non-owned residential facilities under lease or control of the MBL (if any).

The overall concept of operations is two-fold: 1) Residents with personal transportation will self-evacuate to either local public shelters managed by regional emergency management authorities or may elect to depart from Cape Cod and 2) Residents without access to personal transportation will be relocated by the MBL to local public shelters.

This plan does not apply to the immediate evacuation of individual buildings in the event of a fire or other individual building emergency. 

1.3 Definitions

The following terms and references are included in this Plan:

MBLAlert - The MBL high speed, automated emergency notification system.  In an emergency that requires immediate information to the community, MBLAlert will be used to send every individual registered in the MBL One Card system short messages via email, text, and/or voice.

StarRez - The electronic registration system used by the MBL Housing Office to identify all building occupants in residence.

Resident Groups - For the purposes of this plan, MBL campus residents are classified in the following categories:

Undergraduates in Residence - Students residing on the campus as part of established undergraduate programs, courses and/or internships.

Education Participants and Researchers - Graduate students, course leaders, and visiting researchers who live in MBL owned or controlled housing, including members of their families who may reside with them.

Conference Attendees - Participants in short-term programs not typically managed or sponsored by the MBL.

Evacuation Warning - A formal notice issued to campus residents by the MBL Incident Management Team that evacuation of campus residents is anticipated and that individuals should begin preparations. 

Evacuation Order – An official announcement issued under the authority of the MBL Incident Manager that the MBL will be closing and that a mandatory evacuation of all Resident Groups is underway.

2 General Information

2.1 Personal Planning and Preparedness

It is essential that all members of the MBL campus community understand the importance of personal preparedness and take responsibility for self-care in the event of any emergency situation.  In the event that an evacuation of the MBL campus is required, it is expected that all individuals should be able to take care of themselves to the best of their abilities, assist others where possible, and follow directions of those responsible for managing the evacuation and sheltering process.

Personal emergency planning should consider any special health needs or other limitations, as well as family members and those under one's care, including pets.

Open communication is also fundamental for the MBL to be able to assist and care for its residential community under any emergency situation.  All MBL campus residents are expected to be familiar with official MBL communication channels, and expect announcements and follow instructions from the MBL Incident Management Team (IMT) and campus emergency managers.

Residents will also be requested to provide other emergency information, including alternative methods of contact if information changes, such as a new shelter location.          

All MBL campus residents should have or be able to quickly assemble a personal emergency evacuation kit that can accompany them to a public shelter. An evacuation kit should consist of a small backpack or duffel bag containing 2-3 days of clothing, toiletries and any necessary medications.  It is important to note that MBL emergency transportation and public shelter facilities cannot accommodate large amounts of luggage.  

While public shelters are expected to provide basic services such as water, food, and sleeping accommodations, individuals should plan for at least 72 hours in a shelter environment.  Appendix A contains a list of personal items to pack for shelter and selected resources with additional information on what to consider including in a personal evacuation kit.

General personal preparedness and emergency planning information is also widely available online.  The official FEMA website with information on this topic is:

2.2 Roles and Responsibilities

MBL Incident Management Team

As outlined in the MBL Emergency Management Plan, the Incident Management Team (IMT) has primary responsibility for directing MBL operations in the event of any emergency situation that may require evacuation of campus facilities.  The IMT is responsible for the development, implementation and adjustment of all emergency action plans and procedures.

The following operational teams are established by the IMT to provide evacuation support:

Housing and Security:

The MBL Housing and Security Team is responsible for the orderly processing of campus residents during an evacuation incident.  Duties include providing data to the IMT on resident status, coordinating and distributing emergency information to residents, distributing and collecting Evacuation Emergency Form (Appendix B) from residents prior to departure, and on-site instructions of the evacuation process and return to campus following an evacuation.

The Housing and Security Team is led by the Housing and Conference Manager and includes the MBL housing and conference staff, campus security officers, and the cottage caretaker.


The MBL Transportation Team is responsible for the physical transport of residents from the campus and cottages to off-site parking (for residents with vehicles) and public shelters.  The MBL has three 12-passenger vans available, plus the contracted parking shuttle that has capacity for 15 passengers.  The Transportation Team is also responsible for the relocation and secure storage of any resident luggage not taken to shelter facilities.

The Transportation Team is led by the Supervisor of Transportation and Grounds and includes MBL van and truck drivers and contracted transportation services.

Public Agencies and Authorities

The Town of Falmouth Fire Department directs emergency management services for the community and coordinates local shelter operations in conjunction with the regional system managed by the Barnstable County Emergency Planning Committee (BCREPC).

In the event that an evacuation is ordered by any public authority, the BCREPC will activate its emergency shelters at one or more of six sites on Cape Cod (see for details on the regional shelter system).

The MBL is a member of the Falmouth Local Emergency Planning Committee (i.e. Falmouth Emergency Management), and is represented by Campus Security and Environmental Health and Safety.  The IMT will designate a member of the team to coordinate all evacuation procedures with Falmouth Emergency Management to determine the nearest open shelter(s), as well as authorized transportation routes for MBL vehicles.

2.3 Coordination of Communication

As defined in the MBL Emergency Management Plan, the IMT is solely responsible for the coordination and distribution of official MBL emergency information, including specific direction to the MBL community in advance of a possible evacuation, policy decisions and instructions regarding actions such as closure, evacuation procedures, and resumption of MBL functions.

All staff and campus residents, including visiting researchers and students, are expected to be familiar with official MBL communication channels, and to expect announcements and direction from the IMT and its operational teams.  Methods of communication include:

  • Severe weather and evacuation preparedness information (printed, online, and/or provided during orientation meetings);
  • Urgent messages distributed through MBLAlert
  • Updates through the MBL Intranet, and social media (Facebook and Twitter);
  • Postings on the MBL emergency web page ( , and on-campus digital displays. 

Note:  The MBL IT emergency preparation plan may include the shutdown of the internal MBL network to protect server equipment.  This should not affect internet access from the MBL and will not impact externally-hosted services, such as MBLAlert, and social media.

3 Evacuation Preparedness

3.1 Resident Awareness

The MBL Housing and Security Team provides general information to incoming residents about campus safety and emergency procedures.  MBL Alert is the Laboratory’s high-speed, automated emergency notification system. Students, faculty, visiting researchers and staff registered in the MBL One Card system are automatically enrolled in the MBL Alert system. In an emergency that requires immediate action from our community (such as an evacuation), authorized personnel will use MBL Alert to send MBL community members short messages via email, SMS text messages and/or automated phone calls to provide vital information quickly.

3.2 Severe Weather Alerts

An approaching tropical storm or hurricane will generally allow for several days of advance planning.  As noted in the MBL Severe Weather Preparedness Plan, the IMT monitors long range weather forecasts for the MBL and activates when a potentially deteriorating weather situation may impact the MBL.

The MBL relies on official weather information from the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center ( as the primary source of official information for long range forecasts.  For local weather updates and alerts, including the potential for evacuation orders, the MBL will also make use of regional news sources, local media outlets, and guidance by state authorities.

3.2.1 Stages of Evacuation Actions

The MBL Severe Weather Preparedness Plan outlines a phased approach to monitoring approaching severe weather conditions and the IMT is responsible for managing preparations that are proportional to the timing and anticipated impact of the storm on the MBL campus.

Preparedness Advisory

At Stage 2 of the Severe Weather Preparedness Plan (i.e. the 3-Day Forecast Cone encompasses the Cape Cod region), the IMT will activate a communications plan for the MBL community, which will include appropriate information regarding the developing storm and reminders for preparedness and safety.

Evacuation Warning

In the event that a severe storm causes the IMT to advance to Stage 3 of the MBL Severe Weather Preparedness Plan (i.e. a Tropical Storm, Hurricane or Blizzard Watch), the IMT Incident Action Plan may indicate the need for an Evacuation Warning to the MBL residential community.  The purpose of the Evacuation Warning is to direct residents to prepare for potentially severe weather and the possibility that an evacuation may be required.     

Evacuation Order

Should the situation advance to Stage 4 of the MBL Severe Weather Preparedness Plan (i.e. a Tropical Storm, Hurricane or Blizzard Warning), the IMT Incident Action Plan may indicate that a closure of the campus and evacuation of all residents is required.  The IMT will be guided by public authorities regarding the need for evacuation.  An Evacuation Order by the IMT is not optional and all campus residents must immediately prepare to depart the campus as instructed by the IMT and the supporting operational teams.

3.3 Alerts Due to non-weather related events

In the case of a catastrophic or notice of a potentially catastrophic event (other than a severe weather event), there may be limited advance notice for emergency preparedness.  The IMT will activate a communications plan for the MBL community, which will include appropriate information regarding the developed or developing potential catastrophic event. 

The communication plan maybe initiated with either a Preparedness Advisory or Evacuation Warning with some advance notice for preparation for a potential evacuation.  In an extreme catastrophic situation, the IMT Incident Action Plan may implement with no-advanced warning an Evacuation Order. The IMT will be guided by public authorities regarding the need for evacuation, as applicable.  An Evacuation Order by the IMT is not optional and all campus residents must immediately prepare to depart the campus as instructed by the IMT and the supporting operational teams.

3.4 Coordination with Public Agencies

The IMT will maintain communication with local authorities through all stages of a developing situation that may lead to evacuation of campus residents. 

In the case of anticipation of severe weather conditions, the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee (BCREPC) will convene periodic conference calls with major Cape Cod organizations - including the MBL - to discuss the state of preparations, identify specific concerns, and to communicate official information and evacuation warnings.

The IMT will also exchange information with Falmouth Emergency Management about the number of residents on campus, potential sheltering requirements and availability (including special needs), and the availability of any supplemental transportation assistance.

4 Evacuation Logistics

4.1 Evacuation Warning

In the event that an Evacuation Warning is issued by the IMT, all MBL operational support teams are expected to be at full readiness, standing by and prepared to execute an Evacuation Order, if necessary: 

  • The IMT will initiate communications with all campus residents about storm predictions (or other event) and provide notice that a possible evacuation may be required.  All residents will be required to complete an Evacuation Emergency Form (Appendix B) to provide the MBL Housing and Security Team at the Swope front desk during an evacuation.  These forms will be provided by MBL staff to each housing unit /room.  Form will include updated personal and family (or other designated off-campus person) contact information, availability of personal transportation, intended destination (if known), and any other special needs.
  • Residents will also be reminded to prepare an evacuation kit with essential personal supplies (Appendix A) and to remain prepared for further communication from official MBL sources.
  • The MBL Housing and Security Team will create a current In-Room Report from StarRez identifying the location and classification of all current campus residents. 
  • The MBL Director of Education and the Director of Research will notify all incoming researchers and course attendees that a campus Evacuation Warning has been issued and to stand by for further instructions about the potential for suspension of courses and/or research programs.
  • The MBL Housing and Security Team will notify all incoming conference group leaders that a campus Evacuation Warning has been issued and to stand by for further instructions about the potential for possible cancellation of conferences and other events.
  • The IMT will designate a team member to contact Falmouth Emergency Management and the BCREPC shelter coordinator to discuss specific plans for opening of shelter facilities and provide updated information about MBL residents who may require shelter. 

4.2 Evacuation Order - MBL Woods Hole (On-Campus) Residents

In the event that an Evacuation Order is to be issued by the IMT, the following procedure will be followed:

1. The MBL Housing and Conference Manager will notify any incoming conference group leaders that a campus Evacuation Order has been issued and that the campus will be closed until further notice.

2. The IMT designee will confirm the schedule for opening of specific shelter facilities through Falmouth Emergency Management and the BCREPC shelter coordinator and determine the availability of any supplemental transportation services. 

3.  Residents with personal transportation (All Resident Groups) will be instructed to check out of their rooms and cottages and advised to depart with all personal belongings in their vehicles.  All residents will be provided information and directions to available public shelters.  However, Undergraduates in Residence will be given specific instructions to proceed home (if safe to do so) or to a designated local shelter to be joined by their colleagues and MBL representative(s).  (It is estimated that approximately 50% of campus residents have access to personal vehicles.) 

The checkout process will require that residents turn in keys and an updated Emergency Contact Form.

  • For residents in the Cottages, the check out location will be at the Pilot House.  The Cottage Caretaker will manage the checkout process.
  • For residents on the Woods Hole campus, the checkout process will take place at the Swope front desk by MBL Housing staff.

Residents with vehicles parked at Devil's Lane will be shuttled to the parking lot by the MBL Transportation Team.

4. All other campus residents without access to personal transportation will follow the following procedures and sequence of evacuation:

Step 1. Undergraduates in Residence will be checked out at the Swope front desk by the Housing and Security Team.  MBL representatives will be assigned by the Education department to accompany undergraduates to the designated shelter(s), where they will remain with their respective groups. 

Step 2. Education Participants, Researchers and Conference Attendees will be checked out by the Housing and Security Team.   

Step 3. After all on-campus residents have been checked out, any remaining residents in MBL-provided housing will check out through Swope.

At checkout each resident will turn in his/her updated Emergency Contact Form and keys and given any additional instructions regarding shelter plans.  MBL Housing will record checkout against the current In Room Report for tracking. After checkout, campus residents will be instructed to take their personal evacuation kits to a staging area in the Loeb parking lot or the Swope Dining Room (in the event of inclement weather).  All remaining luggage will remain in the housing unit/room as public shelters will not have sufficient space to accommodate.

Campus residents will be picked up by MBL vans (possibly supplemented with additional transportation services, if available) at the Loeb parking lot in the order in which they were checked out.  Any remaining residents at the cottages will be picked up at the Pilot House. 

During and following the evacuation process, the Housing and Security Team will inspect and secure each building to verify complete evacuation.  No re-entry will be allowed (building will be locked down), except as specifically permitted by the Housing and Security Team.

The staging of the checkout process will be coordinated by the Housing and Security Team to avoid congestion in either the parking lot or Swope Dining Room based on availability of shuttles for evacuation.

Shuttles will operate continuously between the pickup areas and the shelter at Falmouth High School until all residents have been evacuated.  Depending on the availability of shelter space in Falmouth, some MBL residents may be transported to other public shelters managed by the BCREPC.  The BCREPC will coordinate transportation between the Falmouth shelter and those locations.  

4.3 Ongoing Communication

The MBL will provide updates with all evacuees throughout the emergency using the communication channels identified in Section 2.3 and from information provided on the Emergency Contact Forms.  Although the MBL is not responsible for oversight or control of shelter operations, the IMT will continue to monitor the situation through Falmouth Emergency Management and the BCREPC throughout the evacuation period.

Evacuees will be instructed to keep the Housing and Security Team informed in the event their shelter location changes so that the MBL can respond to any questions or concerns from families or public authorities.

5 Post Evacuation Recovery

Restoring the MBL and returning to normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible will be a top priority for the IMT.  In the event of a major event that required closure and evacuation of the MBL, the IMT will continue to actively manage the situation through full recovery. 

As soon as it is safe to access the campus, the IMT will dispatch crews to conduct damage assessment and to develop a plan for reopening the campus.  The Housing and Security Team will inspect all housing units and food service operations to ensure safe occupancy and report findings to the IMT.

If the campus is reopened and normal activities can be resumed immediately, the IMT will arrange for the return of campus residents from the public shelters via MBL vans.  This will be handled in the same sequence as the evacuation, with the Undergraduates in Approved Programs and their accompanying advisers returning first, followed by Education Participants, Researchers and Conference Attendees.  Others who evacuated by personal transportation will be notified and checked in as they return.

In the case of extreme damage or an extended outage of critical services on the campus that prevents a prompt resumption of programs or residential occupancy, the Housing and Security Team will arrange for charter transportation service to convey evacuees to central transportation hubs in Providence and Boston.  The MBL will coordinate retrieval of any stored luggage on campus, if assessable.  For individuals requiring an extended shelter option, the Housing and Security Team will assist with placement.

In the event of a large scale disaster that affects the region, it is likely that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will deploy resources to assist with response and recovery.  The IMT will establish communication with such agencies through the BCREPC as early as possible to identify critical needs for the MBL and determine distribution points for any available necessities and services to meet health, safety, and lifesaving requirements.

Appendix A – Shelter Supplies and Sources for Information


Any specific medication or care instructions (1-week supply)
Name and phone number of physician/home health care agency

If you are on a special diet, you need to bring a 3-day supply of nonperishable food.

ID with photo and current address, and medical identification card

Check cashing / credit card services may not be available for several days after the storm. There will be no place to secure money or valuables at the evacuation shelter.

Small games, cards, books, magazines, etc.

Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, towels, brush/comb, glasses, eye drops, etc.

A 3-day supply of comfortable clothing with extra sets of underwear and socks. Evacuation shelters tend to be cold so bring a sweater.



Build an Emergency Supply Kit

Emergency Supplies List

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Emergency Supplies List

Town of Falmouth Emergency Management Division:

Disaster Preparedness Supply Kit

Barnstable County Regional Planning Committee:

Regional Shelter System Information