Executive Order

Executive Order No. 31: Civil Defense evacuation procedures and emergency traffic regulations

Date: 02/21/1956
Issuer: Christian A. Herter
Revoking: Executive Order 14
Revoking: Executive Order 17
Revoking: Executive Order 24
Revoked by: Executive Order 242

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the increased strength of atomic weapons makes evacuation of probable target areas the most practicable protection against the effects of enemy attack; and

WHEREAS, the promise of earlier warning of enemy attack makes planning for such evacuation practicable; and

WHEREAS, the Government of the United States, acting through the Federal Civil Defense Administration, has recommended that evacuation of probable target areas be carried out upon receipt of the so-called Warning Yellow; and

WHEREAS, the attack warning signals and emergency traffic regulations presently in effect are not designed to permit the people of this Commonwealth to take advantage of earlier warning of enemy attack by leaving probable target areas; and

WHEREAS, it would be imprudent not to establish immediately such signals and regulations as will permit the evacuation of probable target areas upon receipt of warning of impending attack, notwithstanding that detailed plans for such evacuation are incomplete and that any such plans will be subject to revision to meet changing conditions:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Christian A. Herter, Governor of the Commonwealth acting under the authority of Acts of 1950, Chapter 639, as amended, and in particular Sections 4, 6, 7, 8, 8A, 16 and 20 thereof, and all other authority vested in me by law and upon the recommendation of the Government of the United States acting through the Federal Civil Defense Administration, do hereby issue this Order as a necessary preparatory step in advance of disaster and as part of the plan and program for the civil defense of the Commonwealth.

PART I - DECLARATION OF POLICY AND GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of this Commonwealth, and part of the plan and pro- gram for the Civil Defense of the Commonwealth, to evacuate all persons, so far as practicable, from probable target areas in advance of impending attack.

2. Pursuant to the authority conferred upon me by Acts of 1950, Chapter 639, Section 5, it is hereby declared that, upon receipt by the Government of the Commonwealth from the United States Air Force or any other authorized agency or official of the Government of the United States of any warning of impending enemy attack other than a practice or test warning, and provided an applicable state of emergency is not then in effect, a state of emergency shall then exist for the reason that the peace and security of the Commonwealth are endangered by the imminent threat of belligerent acts of an enemy of the United States. Said state of emergency shall continue until such warning shall be withdrawn by the United States Air Force or any other authorized agency or official of the Government of the United States, or until said state of emergency shall be terminated by subsequent proclamation of the Governor. In the event such impending enemy attack shall occur in this Commonwealth or in the event of an enemy attack upon this Commonwealth without warning, and provided an applicable state of emergency is not then in effect, a state of emergency shall then exist because of the occurrence of such attack and such state of emergency shall continue until terminated by subsequent proclamation of the Governor.

3. Each agency and political sub-division of the Commonwealth is hereby authorized and directed, in addition to the requirements set forth hereinafter in this Order or in any Executive Order heretofore or hereafter promulgated, to make all necessary or appropriate plans and preparations, including plans and preparations for evacuation or reception, in order to implement the policy stated in Section 1 of this Order and each such agency and political sub-division is hereby further authorized and directed to carry out such plans and preparations at all times as may be necessary or appropriate. In the event of disagreement as to the plans and preparations necessary or appropriate to be made by any such agency or political sub-division, the judgment of the State Director of Civil Defense (hereinafter called the State Director) shall control. The State Director is hereby further authorized, whenever in his judgment such action is necessary to achieve the objective of the policy stated in Section 1 of this Order, to promulgate regulations prescribing the plans and preparations necessary or appropriate to be made by any agency or political subdivision of the Commonwealth in order to implement the policy stated in Section 1 of this Order, and it shall be the responsibility of each such agency or political sub-division to make such plans and preparations as the State Director may prescribe and to carry out such plans and preparations at all times as may be necessary or appropriate, it being the intent hereby to exercise through the State Director the authority conferred upon the Governor by Acts of 1950, Chapter 639, Sections 4, 5, 7 and 8. Regulations promulgated by the State Director under the authority of this Section shall not be effective until approved by the Governor and filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, provided, however, that such regulations promulgated after the sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and prior to a determination and announcement by the State Director that evacuation is no longer necessary, shall be effective without approval by the Governor or filing with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

4. In order further to implement the policy stated in Section 1 of this Order, the State Director is hereby authorized and directed to promulgate regulations prescribing the plans and preparations necessary or appropriate in the interest of the public safety to be made by non-governmental agencies, institutions, installations, facilities, organizations or individuals of any kind or nature whatsoever and it shall be the responsibility of each such non-governmental agency, institution, installation, facility, organization or individual to make such plans and preparations as the State Director may prescribe and to carry out such plans and preparations at all times as may be necessary or appropriate, it being the intent hereby to exercise through the State Director the authority conferred upon the Governor by Acts of 1950, Chapter 639, Sections 4, 5, 7 and 8. Plans and preparations in the interest of the public safety, as used in this Section, shall mean plans and preparations that must be made and carried out, in the judgment of the State Director, in order to prevent substantial interference with the implementation of the policy stated in Section 1 of this Order. In any case where a plan or preparation prescribed under the authority of this Section, or the carrying out thereof, shall constitute a taking of private property for public use, the provisions of Acts of 1950, Chapter 639, Section 5 (b) shall be complied with. Regulations promulgated by the State Director under the authority of this Section shall not be effective until approved by the Governor and filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, provided, however, that such regulations promulgated after the sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and prior to a determination and announcement by the State Director that evacuation is no longer necessary, shall be effective without approval by the Governor or filing with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

PART II - EVACUATION, NEUTRAL AND RECEPTION ZONES

5. The State Director is hereby authorized and directed to designate Evacuation, Neutral and Reception Zones on the basis of advice or information furnished by the Government of the United States or otherwise available to him, and to revise such designations from time to time as may be necessary or appropriate on the basis of such advice or information. The State Director shall file with the Secretary of the Commonwealth lists of the cities and towns in Evacuation, Neutral and Reception Zones and shall thereafter file with the Secretary of the Commonwealth all revisions of such lists, provided, however, that any failure so to file shall not affect the validity of any such designation or revision.

6. Evacuation Zones shall include cities and towns which it may at any time be advisable to evacuate because of the threat of enemy attack or the effects thereof. Neutral Zones shall include cities and towns wherein neither evacuation nor reception of evacuees is advisable, provided, how- ever, that evacuation of places in Neutral Zones adjacent to Evacuation Zones may be recommended in appropriate cases. Reception Zones shall include cities and towns suited for the reception of evacuees.

PART III - ATTACK WARNING SIGNALS 

7. The following signals are hereby established as the official attack warning signals for use in this Commonwealth:

a. EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL (for use in cities and towns where evacuation is planned): A steady blast of three to five minutes duration sounded on sirens, horns, whistles or other warning devices, indicating that attack is probable. Warning devices not capable of producing a steady blast of at least three minutes duration should be sounded steadily for as long as possible to indicate the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL.

b. ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL (for use in cities and towns where evacuation is not planned): A steady blast of three to five minutes duration sounded on sirens, horns, whistles or other warning devices, indicating that attack is probable. Warning devices not capable of producing a steady blast of at least three minutes duration shall be sounded steadily for as long as possible to indicate the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL.

c. TAKE COVER (RED) SIGNAL (for use in all cities and towns): A wailing tone of three minutes duration or a three minute series of short blasts sounded on sirens, horns, whistles or other warning devices, indicating that attack is imminent.

8. Upon the receipt of the Warning Yellow, so-called, from the Massachusetts State Police, indicating that enemy attack is probable, each city and town where evacuation is planned shall sound the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL. Upon sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL, all persons in places where evacuation is planned are advised to leave. Persons who do not leave are advised to take such preparatory measures for the protection of life and property as have been planned by civil defense officials.

9. Upon receipt of the Warning Yellow, so-called, from the Massachusetts State Police, indicating that enemy attack is probable, each city and town where evacuation is not planned, shall sound the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL. Upon sounding of the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL, all per- sons are advised to take such preparatory measures for the protection of life and property as have been planned by civil defense officials.

10. Upon receipt of the Warning Red, so-called, from the Massachusetts State Police, indicating that enemy attack is imminent, each city and town shall sound the TAKE COVER (RED) SIGNAL. Upon sounding of the TAKE COVER (RED) SIGNAL, all persons are advised to seek such shelter as may be available or to take such other measures for the protection of life and property as may be appropriate in the circumstances.

11. Upon sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL, the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL, or the TAKE COVER (RED) SIGNAL, respectively, all civil defense organizations and all civil defense forces of the Commonwealth and its political sub-divisions, shall take action as prescribed in the State Civil Defense Plan, or such other action as may be prescribed by the State Director.

12. The All-Clear Signal, as heretofore established by Executive Order No. 14, issued August 28, 1951, is hereby abolished. Effective as of the date of this Order, the ALL-CLEAR will be transmitted whenever appropriate, by radio or other available means of public information.

13. Except as authorized by this Order, or by the Government of the United States, no person shall willfully announce or sound, or cause to be announced or sounded, any attack warning or attack warning signal. 

PART IV - EVACUATION ROUTES AND EMERGENCY TRAFFIC REGULATIONS

14. The State Director is hereby authorized and directed to designate such streets and ways as he may deem necessary or appropriate as routes for the use of persons and vehicles leaving Evacuation Zones and adjacent areas in advance of impending attack. Such routes shall be known as Evacuation Routes, and shall be appropriately marked as such. The location and purpose of Evacuation Routes shall be appropriately publicized.

15. Upon the sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL, or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL, and until a determination and announcement by the State Director that such regulations should no longer be effective, the following regulations shall be effective on all Evacuation Routes:

a. Travel shall be permitted one-way only, away from Evacuation Zones, towards Neutral and Reception Zones.

b. Travel across Evacuation Routes shall not be permitted, provided, however, that travel over or under Evacuation Routes by means of overpass or underpass shall not be construed as travel across Evacuation Routes.

c. Vehicles travelling upon Evacuation Routes towards the center of an Evacuation Zone at the time the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL is sounded, shall leave such routes at the first opportunity, provided, however, that where the construction of the route and traffic conditions permit, such vehicles may be permitted to be turned around for the purpose of proceeding upon such routes away from the center of an Evacuation Zone.

16. It shall be the duty of each city and town in which may be located a street or way designated as an Evacuation Route, to enforce the regulations established by Section 15 of this Order during the period such regulations are in effect.

17. Any statute, ordinance, by-law or regulation inconsistent with the regulations set forth in Section 15 of this Order shall be suspended during the period such regulations are in effect.

18. Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 15, 16 and 17 of this Order, the State Director is hereby authorized, during the period the regulations set forth in Section 15 of this Order are in effect, to order the movement of traffic on any Evacuation Route halted, diverted or reversed, whenever necessary in his judgment, in order to prevent the movement of persons towards an area or place of actual or threatened danger due to enemy attack or the effects thereof, or to permit the movement of persons out of or away from any such area or place, or to permit the movement of civil defense or military forces. It shall be the duty of each city and town in which may be located a street or way designated as an Evacuation Route to halt, divert or reverse the movement of traffic as ordered by said State Director. The authority conferred by this Section may be exercised by Area or Sector Directors appointed under the provisions of Executive Order No. 26, subject to such terms and conditions as the State Director may prescribe.

19. Notwithstanding the regulations established by Section 15 of this Order, travel shall be permitted, where practicable, during the period such regulations are in effect, across Evacuation Routes or on Evacuation Routes towards Evacuation Zones, for urgent reasons in connection with the military or civil defense of the United States or this Commonwealth, by vehicles of the armed forces of the United States or this Commonwealth, by police or fire department vehicles or by vehicles identified as provided in Executive Order No. 17 or Sections 1, 2 or 3 of Executive Order No. 24. Notwithstanding the termination of Executive Orders Nos. 17 and 24, as provided for in this Order, the State Director is hereby authorized to continue the issuance of identification devices as formerly provided by Executive Order No. 17 and by Sections 1, 2 or 3 of Executive Order No. 24, provided that the identification devices formerly authorized by Section 1 of Executive Order No. 24 may be issued to any person who, in the judgment of the State Director, should, in the interest of the Civil Defense program, be authorized to receive and use such identification device. All such identification devices heretofore or hereafter issued shall have the meaning and effect set forth in this Section. Drivers of vehicles displaying such identification devices shall be identified as formerly prescribed by said Executive Orders.

20. The State Director is hereby authorized to conduct or authorize evacuation tests at such times and in such places as he may deem the public safety requires, provided, however, that evacuation of any area or place during an evacuation test shall not be compulsory and provided, further, that no such test shall be conducted without the prior approval of the Governor. The State Di- rector is hereby further authorized to order or permit the sounding of a practice EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or a practice ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the practice TAKE COVER (RED) SIGNAL or the announcement of a practice ALL-CLEAR as part of an evacuation test. During the period between the sounding of the practice EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the practice ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and the announcement of the practice ALL-CLEAR the regulations established by Sections 15 to 19 inclusive of this Order shall be effective on all Evacuation Routes involved, provided, however, that such regulations shall not be applied to prevent the movement of any person or vehicle where such movement is necessary for the preservation of life or property. Appropriate notice shall be given to the public, in advance, of the date of any evacuation test, the time of the beginning and end thereof and of the sounding or announcing of any practice signals and concerning the Evacuation Routes involved.

21. For the purpose of minimizing or combating the effects of disaster, actual or imminent, the State Director is hereby authorized, provided that an applicable state of emergency has been declared, to order any area or place affected or threatened by such disaster, evacuated or closed to public use, or to order any public or private street or way essential to the movement or operation of civil defense or military forces closed to public use, for so long as may be necessary in his judgment to minimize or combat the effects of such disaster. The State Director is hereby further authorized to establish regulations governing the presence in, or admission to, any area or place ordered evacuated or closed under the authority of this Section, of such persons as he shall deem necessary or appropriate; to make provision of appropriate notice to the public of the closing of any street or way; and to establish regulations to govern the use of any street or way so closed by abutters or such other persons he may deem appropriate. The authority conferred by this Section may be exercised by Area or Sector Directors appointed under the provisions of Executive Order No. 26, subject to such terms and conditions as the State Director may prescribe.

22. Any order issued under the authority of Section 21 of this Order, requiring the evacuation of any area or place or the closing of any area or place or street or way to public use, shall not apply to vehicles or personnel of the armed forces of the United States or of this Commonwealth, police or fire department vehicles or personnel, vehicles or personnel identified as prescribed in Section 19 of this Order or vehicles or personnel identified as prescribed in Section 4 of Executive Order No. 24. Notwithstanding the termination of said Executive Order No. 24, as provided for in this Order, the State Director is hereby authorized to continue the issuance of identification devices as formerly provided by Executive Order No. 24, Section 4 and all such identification devices heretofore or here- after issued shall have the meaning and effect set forth in this Section. Police and military authorities shall have discretion to permit any vehicle to be operated in, or any person to remain in or be admit- ted to, any area, place, street or way ordered evacuated or closed by the State Director under the authority of this Order, where necessary for the preservation of life or property.

23. Except as provided in Sections 19 and 22 of this Order or as authorized by the Government of the United States, no person shall willfully issue or deliver an identification device authorized or recognized by this Order to any person, nor shall any person by misrepresentation of fact obtain issuance of or deliver of such identification device, nor shall any person, without being authorized so to do, use such identification device to obtain admission to an area or place, or to remain in an area or place, or to travel on a street or way, closed to public use under the authority of this Order, nor shall any person make, possess or use any identification device simulating a device authorized or recognized by this Order.

PART V - AUTHORIZATION FOR EVACUATION

24. Any office or institution, public or private, located in an Evacuation or Neutral Zone which may be required by law to be open for the conduct of business on certain days during certain hours, may be closed and business suspended, notwithstanding such law, upon sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and until a determination and announcement by the State Director that evacuation is no longer necessary.

25. Any person, corporation or other association required by law to perform or render a service in an Evacuation or Neutral Zone is hereby authorized, notwithstanding such law, to suspend performance of such service upon sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and until a determination and announcement by the State Director that evacuation is no longer necessary.

26. Any person required by law to be kept or detained in an institution, public or private, located in an Evacuation or Neutral Zone may, notwithstanding such law, be evacuated from such place upon the sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and until a determination and announcement by the State Director that evacuation is no longer necessary, provided, however, that wherever practicable such person shall be removed to and detained in a comparable or equivalent institution, within or without the Commonwealth, as circumstances may permit or require.

27. Any person, corporation or other association engaged in the business of transporting per- sons, required by the law of this Commonwealth or of its political subdivisions to make a charge for such service, is hereby authorized, upon the sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and until a determination and announcement by the State Director that evacuation is no longer necessary, to transport persons without charge out of or away from Evacuation or Neutral Zones as part of the evacuation process. Transportation of persons, as used in this Section, shall include toll bridges, toll tunnels and toll highways.

28. Any law which would otherwise have the effect of prohibiting or preventing the evacuation of any person from an Evacuation or Neutral Zone shall be suspended from the sounding of the EVACUATION (YELLOW) SIGNAL or the ALERT (YELLOW) SIGNAL and until a determination and announcement by the State Director that evacuation is no longer necessary.

PART VI - TERMINATION OF PRIOR EXECUTIVE ORDERS

29. Executive Order No. 14, issued August 28, 1951, Executive Order No. 17, issued September 12, 1952, and Executive Order No. 24, issued November 9, 1954, are hereby terminated, provided, however, that such termination shall not affect any prosecution heretofore or hereafter commenced for the violation of any provision of such orders committed prior to such termination.

GIVEN at the Executive Chamber in Boston, this twenty-first day of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the one hundred and eightieth.

By His Excellency the Governor, CHRISTIAN A. HERTER

EDWARD J. CRONIN

Secretary of the Commonwealth

PENALTY FOR VIOLATION

Imprisonment for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or both. (Acts of 1950, Chapter 639, Section 8)

Contact for No. 31: Civil Defense evacuation procedures and emergency traffic regulations

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