Instructions on Using Urban to Rural Evacuation Tool

This page contains instructions on Using Urban to Rural Evacuation Tool (Western New York Prototype). This tool was developed for emergency preparedness planners by Michael Meit, MA, MPH, Co-Director, NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis & Deputy Director, VA Office of Rural Health Policy and Planning Group.

This tutorial utilizes the urban to rural evacuation tool for Buffalo, NY. Click here to access.


  • When the tool is displayed in your web browser, moving your mouse cursor over items highlights them and an information label will appear (if additional information is available for a particular item).
  • Clicking a highlighted item will display an additional information box, if more information is available.


  1. Direct your web browser to the tool address: (Your browser must be enabled with Adobe Flash, a free, downloadable software platform.)
  2. Once the tool appears, the initial screen will show a map of the U.S. with small circles representing city locations. In the prototype, the city of Buffalo is active and appears as a small red circle; all inactive cities appear as purple circles.
  3. Move your mouse cursor over the red circle representing the city of Buffalo. When you do, a white text label will appear that reads Buffalo, New York and displays Buffalo’s population.
  4. Once your cursor is hovering over Buffalo, click the red circle. The map view will change to a zoomed view of the western New York region. The prototype tool displays the boundaries of Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua Counties, as well as a selection of cities in New York and Pennsylvania.


By default, the tool is set to ‘Resource Information’ mode. The following list of items, each with a checkbox, appears on the right side of the tool:

  • cities
  • roads
  • distance from Buffalo
  • outlying hospitals

By checking or unchecking any of these items, you can control which items are displayed on the map. Moving your mouse cursor over each county displays an information label proving the county name and several other features. Clicking on a county displays an information box (in the upper-left corner) that provides planning information for that particular county.

Using the tool to model urban-to-rural evacuation

At any time, you may change the tool from ‘Resource Information’ mode to the display of urban-to-rural evacuation. To change the display, access the drop-down menu labeled ‘Select Map View / Scenario’ (on the right side of the tool) and select from the following:

  • resource information
  • scenario: dirty bomb
  • scenario: pandemic flu
  • scenario: industrial accident

Once you select one of the three urban-to-rural evacuation scenarios, some of the map colors will change and a legend will appear at the bottom of the tool. Different colors represent different amounts of population change.

By default, the tool displays the result of an urban-to-rural evacuation in the selected scenario after two waves of evacuation. Below the drop-down menu (on the right side of the tool), you may choose to Map Evacuation Population by one of the following three options:

  • both evacuation waves
  • first wave only
  • second wave only

Each option will alter the current output of the tool, and the map colors will change accordingly.

Moving your mouse cursor over a county will again display an information label, but this label will show the population change percentage for the particular scenario and evacuation wave selected.

Clicking on a county displays the planning information box in the upper-left, and also displays a descriptive information box in the lower-right. The descriptive information box currently provides an age breakdown of evacuees and the estimated numbers in each group.


To exit the tool, simply close your web browser.

Have questions or need technical assistance? Contact Tom Briggs at (202) 887-2353 or

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