What to know about developing a hurricane evacuation plan

Determine if you are in an evacuation zone, prepare ahead of time

Central Florida hits deadline to apply for FEMA assistance after Hurricane Ian

ORLANDO, Fla. – With hurricane season fast approaching, it’s important to prepare ahead of time so that if and when a storm hits, you’re ready.

Part of that preparation lies in your evacuation plan. The Sunshine State’s coastal counties are prone to storm surge from tropical storms and hurricanes, according to FloridaDisaster.org.

Residents should know if they live an evacuation zone, a low-lying, flood prone area, a mobile home or an unsafe structure during hurricane season, as these areas are most likely to be evacuated. They should also know their home and whether it can withstand strong winds and heavy rains if no evacuation order is given.

Here is what else you need to do and consider when developing an evacuation plan.

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  • Start developing a family hurricane preparedness plan before an actual storm threatens your area.
  • Find out if you live in an evacuation zone. You can find your evacuation zone here. Just type in your address to determine if it’s in a colored evacuation zone. A key describing what each color indicates can be found here.
  • Prepare a go bag of supplies you may need.
  • Know where you would go and how you would get there, taking any pets into account. Plan multiple routes.
  • Identify trusted sources for receiving evacuation orders, and if ordered to evacuate, do not wait or delay leaving the area. If possible, leave before local officials issue an evacuation order to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Select an evacuation destination close to your home, preferably in the same county, to minimize the distance over which you must travel in order to reach your intended shelter location. Keep in mind hotels and other sheltering options in most inland metropolitan areas will likely be filled quickly.
  • If you decide to evacuate to another county or region, be prepared to wait in traffic. If possible, make arrangements to stay with the friend or relative who resides closest to your home and who will not have to evacuate and discuss with your intended host the details of your family evacuation plan before the beginning of the hurricane season.
  • If a hotel or motel is your final destination during an evacuation, make reservations before you leave.
  • If you are unable to stay with friends or family and no hotel/motel rooms are available, then go to a shelter as a last resort. Keep in mind shelters are not designed for comfort and do not always accept pets, so take that into account. Bring a disaster supply kit with you to a shelter.
  • Make sure that you fill up your car with gas before you leave.

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About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.