The Evacuee Support Network was founded in the 1980s by a group of AAFSW members who were concerned about the rising number of family members who were being evacuated from posts around the world for a variety of reasons.
Since that time the Network has met more than 1,500 evacuees to the Washington, DC area and assisted them in their journeys. Over the years volunteers have babysat, offered advice on housing, schools and hotels. Volunteers have lent winter coats, toys, strollers and cribs. Evacuees have spent Thanksgivings, Christmases and Passovers with volunteers who have been friends to frazzled families.
The Network launches from disaster to disaster. There was the Rawanda Genocide in 1994 and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 followed by the Arab Spring in 2011 where volunteers helped more than 100 families evacuated from Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. The summer of 2017 brought families home from Venezuela, from the Embassy and three consulates in Russia and from the hurricane plagued Caribbean. 2020 was disaster upon disaster. The Pandemic which began in China brought families home from the Embassy and multiple Consulates. It was followed by global authorized departures from some posts and ordered departures from others. The Network was able to coordinate with the Junior League of Washington whose annual giant rummage sale had been cancelled due to the pandemic. Evacuees were able to shop “free”.
The Network works hand in hand with the State Department Global Community Liaison Office (GCLO) which includes our flyer in their information given to evacuees. The Network also sends out information through the AAFSW Livelines and other social media sites such as Facebook and Trailing Houses. Once an evacuee with a need gets in touch either through firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com volunteers are called on to help. The Network has about 100 volunteers ready to help; some have lived through evacuations themselves.
GCLO has compiled an extensive list of helps for evacuees, from the definition of Authorized and Ordered departures to Go bag/Stay bag to lists of furnished housing in the area. They are included here. For other questions people can email GCLOAskevacuations@state.gov
Authorized Departure vs. Ordered Departure: An evacuation can be either an Authorized Departure (AD) or Ordered Departure (OD), or a combination of both, for designated persons (e.g., AD for government employees and OD for eligible family members). The key difference between AD and OD is choice. Under OD, designated personnel and/or family members are required to depart post, while AD is voluntary and allows designated employees and/or family members to depart at their own discretion. The Department tailors evacuations to fit posts’ particular circumstances. The Department may change from AD to OD for designated persons as the situation evolves, but switching from OD to AD is not permitted. Allowances for both OD and AD are the same although allowances may vary according to circumstances.
Go-bag, Stay-bag: Packing a Go Bag and a Stay Bag – United States Department of State
Important Documents to have: List of Important Documents for Foreign Service Employees and Family Members – United States Department of State
Personal Preparedness: Personal Preparedness Planning – United States Department of State
General overview information: Post Evacuations – United States Department of State
Short-Term Housing Options from the Foreign Service Institute – United States Department of State
Pets and International Travel: Pets and International Travel – United States Department of State