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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.

Download a copy of the NOLA Ready Guide to Hurricanes here:

English Spanish

Prepare for a storm

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

Understand your flood risk

Climate and topography make flooding a reality in New Orleans. And certain parts of the city are more likely to flood. Learn about your flood risk with our interactive tool: 

Ready for Rain

Additional flood risk information can be found at:

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 4 days (first 96 hours)
  • 4+ 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

  • If you need power for medical equipment, create a Smart911 profile and indicate your needs in the medical section. 
  • Fill your bathtub with water to clean and flush toilets.
  • Turn your fridge to its lowest temperature.
  • Charge electronic devices.
  • Preserve cell phone battery life.
  • Stay away from low-hanging or downed power lines.

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. Text EVACNOLA to 77295 if you might need to use City-assisted evacuation. The City of New Orleans will text you information if there is a mandatory evacuation.

How it works

The Smoothie King Center will be the hub for evacuation for residents who can’t leave on their own. During a mandatory evacuation, evacuees should come to the Smoothie King Center (1501 Dave Dixon Dr.), where they will be registered for evacuation. From there, evacuees will board a bus, train, or airplane to a state or federal shelter. To get to the Smoothie King Center from your home, there are multiple options:

  • RTA Bus Routes: RTA will run on a Saturday schedule and all bus routes ending at Duncan Plaza will make a final stop at the Smoothie King Center.
  • Evacuspots: All 17 Evacuspot pickup locations across the city are on the RTA bus routes. They will be bring evacuees to the Smoothie King Center. 
  • Drop Offs and Walk Ups: Evacuees can be dropped off or walk up to the Smoothie King Center from the intersection of Poydras and LaSalle Streets.
  • Uber/Lyft/Rideshare: If you are using a rideshare to get to the Smoothie King Center, please be dropped off at Loyola Ave. and Dave Dixon Dr.
  • If you can’t evacuate on your own because of medical and/or mobility needs, you might be eligible to be picked up from your home. Create a Smart911 profile and fill out the medical section. During a City Assisted Evacuation, you might be eligible for paratransit pickup.

What to bring

  • Each person can bring 1 carry-on sized bag with supplies for a go bag. Medical devices, diaper bags, and other necessary personal items will not be counted in the one-bag rule, so bring those too.
  • 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.
  • Weapons and illegal substances are not allowed in the evacuation process.

Consider who is in your network and check in on family, friends, and neighbors to see if they need a ride.

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.

Due to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing during City-assisted evacuation, it is possible that decisions will be made even further in advance of a storm's landfall. Pay attention during hurricane season and be ready to evacuate immediately if asked to do so.

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

Post-Evacuation Business Reentry Placards

To re-enter New Orleans before the general public, you must have a valid reentry placard. Each year, businesses need to register for a post-evacuation reentry assignment through the City's One Stop App.


Select POST-EVACUATION Business Reentry to register.  Once you have been assigned to a tier, you will receive an email about whether your business is approved.  If approved, you will be provided with instructions on how to make an appointment to come to CITY HALL room 9W03 and pick up your placards.


The Tier 3 placards can be  printed from your home or office using a color or black and white printer.  Tier 1 & 2 placards will need to be picked up in person.  For questions or to make an appointment to pick up your placards, call Carlos Muniz at 504-658-8700.


The assigned placard will be valid for entering Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish, St. Bernard Parish, and Plaquemines Parish following a mandatory evacuation re-entry process.

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
  • Hospitals
  • Lodging providers for first responders


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

  • Banks
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Pharmacies
  • Administrative and payroll employees
  • Engineers & damage assessment teams for hotels and motels


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

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