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Abstract: This case describes a situation (based on actual events, but disguised in this telling) in which city officials receive a warning that as a result of persistent snow followed by rain, there is a significant probability of a major landslide from a hillside above the town. If a landslide were to occur, it would likely damage a group of homes at the bottom of the hill, and might cause injuries. The question the officials face is whether to encourage a voluntary evacuation or whether to order a mandatory evacuation -- and, in either case, how best to go about it.
Learning Objective: The case allows exploration of conflicts among competing interests and values -- especially given the high degree of independence exhibited by New Hampshire residents, captured in the state motto "Live Free or Die." It also allows examination of alternative strategies for persuasion -- who might be most persuasive, and how persuasion might be undertaken. Finally, it provides a vehicle for examining the differing perspectives of political officials (who generally are less inclined to invoke direct authority, viewing it as a scarce and costly resource) and operational officials (who generally want to err on the side of safety).