MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WLNS) — Mackinac Island is hosting a special mass evacuation exercise next week.

The Mackinac County Office of Emergency Management announced an exercise simulating a mass evacuation of the island on Thursday, Sept. 7 from noon to 6 p.m.

The exercise will begin at the Mackinac County Airport and will extend to British Landing. It will include participation from the Michigan National Guard 1437th Bridging Company.

As part of the exercise, the National Guard unit will build an alternate port to be used for evacuation during an emergency on Mackinac Island.

“Now that we have cruise ships coming into the area, we have a lot more congestion in the straits area. Our concerns started to turn to, what if we lost that port? said Mackinac County Emergency Management Coordinator, Mike Kasper. “So, if I’ve got 30,000 people that came onto the island that didn’t bring a suitcase, now I’ve got to take care of them and get them back off that island and how we do that if we can’t use the port for whatever reason. One of the wonderful things we have in the Upper Peninsula between Ishpeming and Sault Ste. Marie is the bridging companies. That’s what they do for the military is they build temporary bridges. So, I thought, if they can build a bridge, you can drive an Abrams tank over, I’m pretty sure they can build me a little section of dock. I’ve just got to figure out how I can make that happen.”

Aircraft and boats participating in the exercise will be traversing the waters between the airport and landing on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8.

Officials with Mackinac Island Emergency Management are asking people to avoid the safety zone that will be in place during those days.

Emergency Management also announced there will be traffic pauses at the end of the Mackinac County Airport on the I-75 Business spur while the bridging bays will be flown to British Landing.

“This will be a unique exercise and involve many agencies and local ferry companies, but we ask for safety, please take your pictures from a safe distance to ensure a successful exercise,” said Mike Kasper, coordinator of Mackinac County Emergency Management.

You can keep up with the Emergency Management Department at its official website.