Last year, the Commonwealth of Virginia called for an evacuation of Zone A ahead of Hurricane Florence. We were extremely lucky to have been spared the hurricane but that lead to a lot of questions about the whole evacuation process. The height of hurricane season is August and September so let’s talk evacuations.
The timing of an evacuation order is always difficult. It must be called several days out from when the storm is forecast to make landfall in order to give people enough time to react (remember, people from North Carolina and other neighboring cities will likely be evacuating, too). It would be great if we could wait until the day before landfall because that would give us a more accurate idea of the storm’s path but that wouldn’t leave enough time for people to safely leave their homes. The decision to evacuate is made in coordination with local, regional, and statewide experts. It’s not a decision we make on our own.
Your part in this process is twofold: know your zone and know where you’d go. You can find your zone at KnowYourZoneVA.org (or by calling the Customer Contact Center at 382-2489 to help you look it up). Choosing where to go can be as simple as asking your friends and family what zone they live in. Zone A will be called first so if you live in Zone A, find someone in Zones B, C, or D who could take you in should an evacuation be ordered. Zone B, find a C or D. You don’t have to leave the state or even the city. Evacuation could be as simple as going across town which will limit your time on the road and make it easier for you to return to your home when the all clear is given. But all those plans should be made now.
If an evacuation is ordered and you have nowhere to go, a City shelter will be available to you. Depending on the circumstances there might also be a medical needs shelter and a pets shelter. Be prepared for very basic accommodations at a shelter. Access to electricity can’t be guaranteed and you’ll need to bring enough food, water, medical supplies, bedding, and comfort items for at least a 48 hour stay, depending on the severity of the storm.
More tips and information on evacuation preparation can be found at Ready.gov.