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The City of New Orleans

Plan for Emergencies

Hurricanes & Tropical Weather

Each year, hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th. Dangers from these storms include high winds, heavy rain, tornadoes, flooding, and power outages. Depending on a storm’s severity, the City of New Orleans might issue a mandatory evacuation order. If the City issues a mandatory evacuation, all residents and visitors must leave. If an evacuation is not ordered, it's up to you to decide to evacuate or shelter in place.

Tropical weather begins with a low-pressure area of circulating winds over water. A system can develop into a:

Tropical depression: winds of 38 miles per hour (mph) or less

Tropical storm: winds between 39 and 73 mph

Hurricane: winds of 74 mph or more. Hurricanes are given a category—1 through 5—based on wind speed. The higher the winds, the higher the category.

Prepare for a storm

Preparing your home and neighborhood before a storm can help reduce potential damage. 

Understand your flood risk

Certain parts of the city are more likely to flood than others. You can learn about your flood risk here:

Insure your property

Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster, so it’s important to have the right coverage. Homeowners and renters insurance usually don’t cover flood damage. Flood insurance takes 30 days to take effect, so now’s the time to buy. 

Clean your property and street

  • Remove debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Clear debris from catch basins. Report clogged catch basins to 311. Check out our adopt-a-catch-basin app!
  • Prune trees and shrubs.
  • Bring outdoor furniture and decorations inside.
  • Secure or bring garbage bins inside.
  • Move possessions to your highest floor.
  • Photograph your property for insurance purposes.

Secure your home

  • Check your roof and siding for any loose pieces.
  • Cover your windows with plywood or storm shutters.
  • Secure boats and recreational vehicles.
  • If you live in a trailer or mobile home, evacuate for any storm. Before you leave, do all the above and:
    • Shut off fuel lines but do not disconnect them.
    • Turn off water where it enters your home.
    • Use both “over the top” and “frame” ties to secure your home.

Shelter in place

If a mandatory evacuation is not ordered, decide whether to evacuate or to shelter in place.

Gather what you’ll need to shelter in place

  • Non-perishable food for 3 days
  • 3 gallons of water per person
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight & extra batteries
  • Matches or lighter
  • First Aid Kit
  • Week’s supply of prescription medications
  • Radio (battery operated or hand crank)
  • Books & games

Prepare for power & water outages

Stay safe and informed

  • Bring pets inside.
  • Lock doors and windows. Close curtains and blinds.
  • Stay inside until officials say otherwise.
  • Call 911 in an emergency. Call 311 for information or to report non-emergency service requests like downed trees.
  • Storms can be scary for children. Talk to your family about what’s happening, and keep games and toys on hand to entertain. Read more about families and children.


If the City orders a mandatory evacuation, all residents and visitors must leave.

Gather what you'll need to leave

  • Clothes
  • Soap, toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Bedding
  • Identification
  • Cash
  • List of emergency contacts
  • Medications, copy of medical records & prescriptions
  • Birth & marriage certificates
  • Documents that prove where you live
  • Insurance policies
  • Pet supplies

Leave as early as possible

evacuate by car

  • During a mandatory evacuation, all lanes on major highways will go out of the city. This is called contraflow. Plan your route ahead of time.
  • Estimate that it will take 4 times longer than usual to get to your destination.
  • Leave with a full tank of gas.

Leave by airplane

Take the bus

Take the train

City-assisted evacuation

If you can’t evacuate on your own during a mandatory evacuation, the City of New Orleans can help. City-assisted evacuation provides free transportation out of harm's way.

How it works

There are 17 pickup locations across the city, called evacuspots. 5 are specifically for seniors. If you can’t get to an evacuspot because of medical needs, you might be eligible to be picked up from your home. Sign up for the special needs registry.

  • During a mandatory evacuation, go to your closest evacuspot.
  • A bus will pick you up and bring you to Union Passenger Terminal.
  • There, you’ll board a bus to a state or federal shelter.
  • Once it’s safe to return to New Orleans, the City will bring you back, either to your home or to a local shelter.

What to bring

Each person can bring 1 carry-on sized bag with supplies for a go bag. Pets should have an ID collar, leash, medications, and a carrier. Your pet will be taken to an animal shelter near where you're sheltered. Read more about pets.

Help us plan

Tell us if you'll use City-assisted evacuation.

Download the guide


Evacuspot at Mary Queen of Vietnam

72-hour Evacuation Timeline

This is an estimation for planning purposes. In an actual evacuation, the timeline may shift based on a number of variables.

Return to New Orleans

After a mandatory evacuation, businesses are allowed to return to the city before residents. That's to ensure that essential services like power and grocery stores are running. Read more about preparing your business for emergencies

Reentry placards

To reenter New Orleans before the general public, you must have a valid reentry placard. Each year, businesses need to register for a reentry assignment. You'll be assigned to a tier and you'll receive your corresponding placard(s). For questions or to make an appointment to pick up your placards, call Carlos Muniz at 504-658-8700.

Register for reentry


Businesses and agencies that provide critical support to response efforts. Additionally, core damage assessment teams of major employers with more than 100 employees. Examples include:

  • Debris removal companies
  • Critical delivery services
  • Hospitals
  • Lodging providers for first responders
  • Engineers & damage assessment teams for hotels and motels


Businesses and agencies that help recovery and economic vitality. Additionally, core assessment teams of employers with more than 50 employees. Examples include:

  • Insurance companies
  • Banks
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Pharmacies
  • Security companies
  • Administrative and payroll employees


Retail businesses needed for the return of residents. Examples include:

  • Neighborhood grocery stores
  • Retail shops
  • Restaurants
  • Fast food outlets