Not everyone needs to evacuate from a hurricane, but if you do, knowing your zone will make it much easier to know when to go.
As a hurricane approaches, emergency managers will tell residents when to leave based on the zone they live in. Even if you can’t see the water, it may still be necessary to evacuate depending on your proximity to nearby waterways and points of access. Conversely, if you don’t need to evacuate, you may be asked to ride out the storm at home to prevent unnecessary traffic on evacuation routes.
There are several different ways to find out your evacuation zone. The Florida Division of Emergency Management outlines the counties that have evacuation zones in this interactive desktop map.
The Florida Storms app is a free service of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. The “Evacuate” button near the bottom of the home screen will find your location and show you if which zone you’re in. When a storm is approaching, public radio stations throughout the state will provide the latest storm and evacuation information which can be live streamed from the app.
There are also counties in the state that are not vulnerable to surge flooding, but may experience freshwater flooding from heavy rain, high winds, and tornadoes. These counties may not be in a particular surge zone, but at the discretion of emergency managers, evacuation orders may be issued depending on the greatest threats a storm poses. Local media and county emergency managers will provide this information in the event of an emergency.
Once you’ve determined your evacuation zone, it’s a good idea to map out an evacuation route. Knowing the designated routes allow you to map out the best location to safety, depending on the storm’s track. It’s important to move perpendicular to the storm’s track. For example, if the storm is moving east to west, your best option is to travel north.
During an emergency, the Florida Division of Emergency Management says your local emergency management offices should always be consulted for evacuation orders related to your hometown or county.