Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Mass evacuation of urban areas due to hurricanes is a critical problem that requires extensive basic and applied research. Knowing the accurate evacuation time needed for the entire region in advance such that the evacuation order can be issued on a timely basis is crucial for the officials. Microsimulation modeling, which focuses on the characteristics of individual motorists and travel behavior, has been used widely in traffic simulation as it can lead to the most accurate result. However, because detailed driver response modeling and path processing must be incorporated, vehicle-based microscopic models have always been used only to simulate small to medium sized urban areas. Few studies have attempted to address problems associated with mass evacuations using vehicle-based microsimulation at a regional scale. This study develops an integrated two-level approach by separating the entire road network of the study area into two components, highways (i.e., interstate highways and causeways) and local roads. A vehicle-based microsimulation model was used to simulate the highway part of the road traffic, whereas the local part of the road traffic simulation utilized an agent-based model. The integrated microsimulation model was used to simulate hurricane evacuation in New Orleans. Validation results confirm that the proposed model performs well in terms of high model accuracy (i.e., close agreement between the real and simulated traffic patterns) and short model running time. Sufficient evacuation time is a premise to protect people’s life safety when an area is threatened by a deadly disaster. To decrease the network clearance time, this study also examined the effectiveness of three evacuation strategies for disaster evacuation, including a) simultaneous evacuation strategy, b) staged evacuation strategy based on spatial vulnerabilities, and c) staged evacuation strategy based on social vulnerabilities. The simulation results showed that both staged evacuation strategies can decrease the network clearance time over the simultaneous evacuation strategy. Specifically, the spatial vulnerability-based staged evacuation strategy can decrease the overall network clearance time by about four hours, while the social vulnerability-based staged evacuation strategy can decrease the network clearance time by about 2.5 hours.



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Committee Chair

Nina Lam