How are evacuation decisions made? And by whom?
Los Alamos National Laboratory, NNSA and Los Alamos County are using the “ready, set, go” program to help employees and residents prepare to respond to the Cerro Pelado fire and all wildfires. The Lab has a strong alliance and partnership with NNSA, Los Alamos County, the U.S. Forest Service and the fire Incident Command. As the fire situation progresses, all four organizations are working together to determine the “ready, set, go” actions.
The Laboratory and Los Alamos County will move to the “set” phase of “ready, set, go” at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 9, meaning there is no emergency and no plan to evacuate, but residents and employees should prepare an evacuation plan and a “go bag” in case they need to leave the area. In addition, the Laboratory will implement Maximum Telework, effective Monday, May 9. Learn more about “ready, set, go” on this website.
The Laboratory, NNSA, Los Alamos County, and the U.S. Forest Service have established management action points at which to make decisions about whether to move to the “set” and “go” phases of “ready, set, go,” which are based on the fire’s progression. Read more about that below in this document.
How did the Laboratory and the County decide whether to move to “set,” and what does that mean?
The “set” phase of “ready, set, go” means create your own evacuation plan, a “go bag,” and a communication plan with area evacuation and contact information, and be sure to pay close attention to news and information about the fire. More information about packing a “go bag” and other information about evacuations is available on this Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
The Laboratory’s shift to Maximum Telework status on Monday, May 9, applies to all employees except those who are part of mission essential functions, and it reduces the number of employees on-site if an evacuation is necessary.
The shift to Maximum Telework is similar to the Laboratory’s status during the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the Lab to maintain mission essential functions. If the Laboratory were to move to the “go” phase of “ready, set, go,” each mission essential function would execute its established Continuity of Operations Plan, as coordinated previously with the NNSA Field Office.
Residents of Los Alamos County can get alerts about the “ready, set, go” status through the community’s CodeRED alert system. Sign up by texting LOSALAMOS to 99411. Also, a step-by-step guide to signing up for CodeRED can be watched here. The information also will be posted on the Los Alamos County Cerro Pelado Fire Updates page.
How will the Laboratory and the County decide to move to “go”? And what does that mean?
The “go” phase of “ready, set, go” means evacuate: load your emergency supply kit and evacuation bags (including pet kits) into your vehicle, and go. More about packing a “go bag” and other information about evacuations is available on this Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
Decisions about evacuating remaining employees and the townsite will be made in conjunction with Los Alamos County if the fire continues to move closer to the Laboratory and reaches Alamo Canyon (see map here, note this is not the same thing as Alamo Trail), taking into consideration the incident team’s assessment of the fire (e.g., wind speed, fire behavior).
Based on the Cerro Pelado fire’s current behavior, it is likely that IF an evacuation were to be ordered, it would happen with plenty of time for an orderly departure. But this is not always the case. The Laboratory will communicate with the workforce via the Lab’s Everbridge system. Employees should make sure their information is up to date in Oracle. Information will also be available on the Lab’s internal website and LANL.gov.
Residents of Los Alamos County can get alerts about the “ready, set, go” status through the community’s CodeRED alert system. Sign up by texting LOSALAMOS to 99411. Also, a step-by-step guide to signing up for CodeRED can be watched here.
How will I get the news of an evacuation from the Lab and the County? What if I don’t have a Lab phone?
The Laboratory reaches employees at home, work and elsewhere via the Everbridge system, so it is essential that employees keep their contact information updated in the Oracle system. Go to Oracle, and under LANL Worker Self Service, click Personal Information and be sure the information there is correct. Updates will also be available on the LANL internal webpage and on LANL.gov.
Information from the County about evacuations will come through the Los Alamos County CodeRED phone and text system, and local media and social media. Sign up for Los Alamos County’s CodeRED emergency alerts by texting LOSALAMOS to 99411. The information also will be posted on the Los Alamos County Cerro Pelado Fire Updates page.
How will we know that the Laboratory facilities/materials are safe if we have to leave them?
Laboratory facilities will be put through a standardized “safe shutdown” process to ensure safety and security of each building, according to its processes and materials on hand. The Facility Operations Directorate (FOD) staff would work closely with each resident directorate’s staff to wrap up ongoing operations in an appropriate manner.
Furthermore, Lab facilities are designed and operated to protect the materials that are inside, and radiological and other potentially hazardous materials are stored in containers that are engineered and tested to withstand extreme environments, including heat from fire.
What is the plan for Los Alamos County Schools?
The following information was emailed by Los Alamos Public Schools to parents and guardians on Sunday, May 8:
"Out of an abundance of caution, Los Alamos Public Schools will be closed next week, May 9-13, to ensure that students and staff are home with families if there is a need to evacuate. There will be no before or after school programs, clubs, activities or sports. The safety of our students, staff, and community is our top priority. Although it is not possible to know for certain what the fire will do, we do know that it is important that our students are home with their families, if possible, if an evacuation is ordered.
Schools will not provide remote instruction. Staff will be impacted by any potential evacuation and need to be able to prepare and focus on their families. We will provide you regular updates through email, the website, and local media. LAPS will return students to school as soon as it is safe to do so."
If I don't have a car, how can I evacuate? Will LANL taxis or NCRTD Park & Ride be running? LA County buses?
LANL taxis will be operating until the Maximum Telework decision is made, at which point only essential personnel will be on-site. Los Alamos County is working with all transportation resources at hand, including Atomic City Transit, regional Park & Ride and LAPS bus resources as appropriate. The County has an online form where residents can request transportation assistance, if needed. The form is located on the Los Alamos County Cerro Pelado Fire Updates page. If you are unable to access the form online, please call the Customer Care Center at (505) 662-8333.
Can the County help with evacuating my animals and elderly relatives?
The County has online forms where residents can request transportation or animal assistance, if needed. The forms are located on the Los Alamos County Cerro Pelado Fire Updates page. If you are unable to access the forms online, please call the Customer Care Center at 505-662-8333. Moving vulnerable humans and animals out early is always a wise course of action, when possible.
Will Sombrillo, Aspen, and the Los Alamos Senior Center make arrangements for my elderly relative or do I need to evacuate them myself?
The facilities for the elderly have early-departure plans in place for their residents, although families may choose to make a decision that works better for them. The Los Alamos Senior Center does not provide transportation. The County has an online form where residents can request transportation assistance, if needed. The form is located on the Los Alamos County Cerro Pelado Fire Updates page. If you are unable to access the form online, please call the Customer Care Center at 505-662-8333.
Where can I take my livestock?
Facilities for livestock outside the fire danger area include the Expo New Mexico state fairgrounds, Rodeo de Santa Fe grounds, HIPICO Santa Fe show grounds, Pueblo of Pojoaque, the Rio Arriba County Rural Events Center and various private facilities throughout the area. Los Alamos residents wishing to keep their animals in the area, such as in White Rock, should reach out to friends and neighbors there to identify local options. The County has an online form where residents can request assistance for large animals, if needed. The form is located on the Los Alamos County Cerro Pelado Fire Updates page. If you are unable to access the form online, please call the Customer Care Center at 505-662-8333.
Will they let people from North, Barranca and San Ildefonso mesas use the Rendija Canyon road to evacuate?
Arrangements have already been made with San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Los Alamos County is grading the road in the event of an evacuation. It will be most appropriate for high-clearance vehicles, but does provide an alternate route to connect back with NM 502 at Totavi.