Evacuating the County

"One of the recent lessons learned by emergency managers across the country is in the area of a full-scale evacuation of residents," Griffin said. "We all watched as thousands upon thousands of Houston-area residents tried to leave the area as Hurricane Rita approached."

For most emergencies, Griffin said, evacuations would most likely be in selected areas rather than countywide.

"It is unlikely there will be a major evacuation in Fairfax County," Griffin said. "We most likely will be encouraging our residents to stay put unless told otherwise and to monitor the local media for information."

There are three possible evacuation scenarios:

* Selected evacuation. Only one area is evacuated, as the Belle View-New Alexandria area was during Hurricane Isabel.

* Staged evacuation. One area or neighborhood leaves first, followed by another.

* Full-scale evacuation. Everyone goes at once.

Fairfax school buses, the Fairfax Connector, Metrobus and Virginia Railway Express would be the primary means of transporting people needing rides. For those who are disabled, Fastran buses and Connector buses would be available. During an evacuation, the county would give priority to people needing special assistance. Those people should identify themselves prior to an emergency to their advocacy organization and the Department of Public Safety Communications. County social services and housing officials are working to develop evacuation plans.

State laws and regulations require that nursing homes, hospitals, day-care centers and other private facilities have evacuation plans.

Finding Shelter

* Should an event occur that affects large numbers of Fairfax residents, the county's Department of Family Services, the school system, the Red Cross and others would set up emergency shelters, most likely in public facilities such as schools and other county buildings. The county would announce available shelters through the media and the Community Emergency Alert Network.

County authorities conduct an emergency exercise, above, to prepare for mass evacuation and sheltering of residents. The county executive said evacuations for most emergencies would probably be in selected areas rather than countywide.