In Case of Evacuation, Know Your Route to Safety

WSVN — You know, the saying goes you hide from the wind but run from the water. Living along the coast puts many of us at risk from dangerous storm surge. Jeff Lennox is here with your route to safety.

If a storm threatens South Florida … Emergency officials must decide whether to order evacuations.

Curt Sommerhoff, Miami-Dade EOC: “It’s all about water.”

Storm surge is the water that’s pushed inland by wind, and it can be deadly.

Miguel Ascarrunz, Broward EOC: “Could be up to six, seven, 10 feet storm surge coming inland to Broward County.”

That’s why you need to know if you live in an evacuation zone. If you’re in Miami-Dade County…

Curt Sommerhoff: “We have A, B, C, D and E storm surge planning zones.”

So let’s break it down.

Curt Sommerhoff: “Zone A is our Red Zone. That includes the tip of South Beach, Virginia Key, Key Biscayne and the coastal area of the county along Biscayne Bay. This area up here by Oleta State Park, there is a potential for storm surge.”

Zone B is in the orange. It includes the rest of the barrier islands, from Sunny Isles to South Beach.

Zone B also includes several mainland areas, including much of downtown, and areas along the coast in the southern part of the county, and this large area east of the Turnpike near Homestead.

Curt Sommerhoff: “We saw it with Hurricane Andrew. There’s areas along Biscayne Bay where we can see 15 to 20 feet of storm surge.”

Zone C, or the yellow zone, comes next.

Curt Sommerhoff: “We’ve got some different pockets around Miami-Dade County — North Miami, Miami Shores — here along the Intracoastal, with the largest area of the yellow zone being in Southwest Dade along U.S. 1 and again down into Florida City.”

Zones D in green and E in blue will only be used during a large slow-moving hurricane.

Curt Sommerhoff: “Zone D, we’ve got pockets here in Northeast Dade, the largest pocket being here in Southwest Dade.”

And Zone E in blue is in the far western parts of the county with a few pockets inland, including a long stretch along Southwest Eighth Street. Because the zones are so widespread, county officials are encouraging everyone to look up their address.

Curt Sommerhoff: “Go to www.MiamiDade.gov, services near you, plug in your address. It will tell you exactly what zone you are in.”

In Broward County, there aren’t as many different evacuation zones.

Miguel Ascarrunz: “For Broward County, we essentially have two zones for evacuation.”

Zone A includes all the barrier islands. Evacuations are ordered in these areas for almost every storm.

Miguel Ascarrunz: “Plan B is anything east of Federal Highway.”

Evacuations in Zone B are typically ordered for storms Category 3 or higher.

Officials in both counties say, if you evacuate, you don’t have to go far.

Miguel Ascarrunz: “We encourage people to stay with friends or family, not to get on the road and evacuate up north.”

But if you have no place to go, shelters will be open.

Miguel Ascarrunz: “We’ll have general population shelters open prior to the storm approaching.”

Shelters are operated by the Red Cross and should be considered a last resort.

Carlos Castillo, American Red Cross: “It’s not necessarily the most comfortable place to be. There’s not a lot of room. There’s room for people and a place for them to sleep.”

So remember to bring basic supplies.

Carlos Castillo: “Their toiletries they need, change of clothes.”

Jeff Lennox: “If you have kids, bring toys, books and games to keep them busy. It’s also a good idea to have a battery operated radio or TV so you can track the storm.”

But don’t bring alcohol or guns. They are not allowed.

And remember, now is the time to figure out where you will ride out a storm.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Miami-Dade:

http://www.miamidade.gov/fire/evacuation-zones.asp

Broward:

http://www.broward.org/Hurricane/Pages/evacuationroutes.aspx