The internet is a wonderful tool. It has made everything so much easier. The problem with things being so easy, however, is that many of us are unprepared to deal with a loss of technology. In an evacuation, you likely will not be able to bring up Google Maps on your iPhone.
Terrain and topographic maps will give you the information you really need. It is great to know highways and their exits. It is great to know towns and their streets. But what do you do if a town is chopped up by a hurricane? What do you do if a highway is swallowed by an earthquake?
Terrain maps break down the geography of an area. Living in a world of paved roads and streets we often forget that the Midwest is flat, Nevada is mostly a desert and that the Appalachians are mountainous. This is the sort of information you need a lot more than highway toll locations and street names.
When evacuating, you not only want to know where you are headed, but what you will have to go through to get there. If you study terrain maps in advance, they will help you with both your grab bag and your evacuation strategy.
Mountain ranges are a great example of how topographic awareness can affect your escape plans. The Appalachian Mountains run diagonally across the eastern United States. They stretch all the way from Alabama and Georgia in the south, to Maine in the northeast. Taking one look at a map of the United States makes it very clear: the Appalachians can be a huge roadblock to the evacuation plans of millions of people.
Depending on different weather related scenarios, the up-and-down, winding nature of this colossal mountain range can have a very trying affect on travelers. Wet roads, power outages and panicky drivers can create for deadly scenarios. Those who are forced to travel through or over the Appalachian Mountains, must have better lighting equipment, better handling vehicles and an awareness of the large animal population.
For those who do not live in wooded areas, a deer jumping out in front of you on the road sounds like a fairy tale. In the mountainous, hilly and forest-laden areas of the Appalachians, however, animals of all sorts can suddenly appear in front of your car and cause a crash.
In spite of all the potential risks, high vantage points can offer a myriad of safety benefits. A cabin somewhere high up in the Appalachian Mountains, can be one of the safest possible rally points and evacuation destinations. If you have such a location prepared, all of the risks associated with mountainous roads, may very well be worth it. Never disqualify any option, just make sure to weigh the pros and the cons.
Terrain maps and regional awareness trump bravery and toughness. Preparation is a broad and general concept, but reveals itself as a niche market the deeper it is analyzed. Know your region well and become an expert in its topography and terrains. Only detailed terrain map study and navigation experience can aid you to this goal. Just be aware in advance, map reading is not as simple as it sounds. Some home topography study would suit you well as an added layer of preparation.