Hurricane Irma is barreling towards the United States as I write this. The category five hurricane is something that people are understandably fearful of and is projected to hit Florida by Sunday morning. Throughout the past week, forecasters were unsure of where exactly the hurricane would hit, warning people in the "cone of uncertainty" to evacuate and prepare for the storm while there was still time left. But now there isn't much time left to evacuate, which is why it is important for everyone to know about the Hurricane Irma evacuation zones, so they can stay knowledgable and safe in the face of a huge storm.
Knowing what an evacuation zone is and where to find it could save a person's life, especially since the path of Hurricane Irma, once it leaves Florida, is a little uncertain at this point. As of Friday night, Hurricane Irma was headed for the Florida Keys, according to ABC News, and could make landfall on early Sunday. Right now, according to ABC News, Florida seems to be the only state threatened. In spite of earlier projections that showed the storm making its way up the east coast, the storm will likely move up the middle of Florida before curving inland and losing power. Still, with much of Florida surrounded by water and a projected storm surge threatening many of its coastal towns, everyone should be aware of their evacuation zone while they still have the chance to leave.
What Is An Evacuation Zone?
Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered a mandatory evacuation for a portion of Broward County, the county where Miami is located, on Thursday afternoon, and several other parts of the state during the week. Evacuation zones are areas of the state where forecasters expect the storm to hit the hardest — this could mean that the infrastructure of the town is not built to withstand a storm of the size. Or, that the residents in the town are potentially putting themselves in danger by staying instead of leaving. The governor urged everyone to leave the state if they were in an evacuation zone immediately during an appearance on Good Morning America on Friday:
If you're in an evacuation zone, you've got to get out; you can't wait. This thing's coming. It looks like it's going to go through the middle of the state. It's a massive storm. It can be devastating.
How Can You Find Your Evacuation Zone?
If you're in Florida, South Carolina, or Georgia, there are plenty of resources for you to find the evacuation zone in your state and tell whether or not you're in that. There are quite a bit of counties that need to be evacuated in Florida and you can search your county in Florida for your evacuation zone using these helpful maps.
If you live in South Carolina, you can find your evacuation zone here although the governor has not issued a mandatory evacuation. If you live in Georgia, mandatory evacuations were ordered for coastal towns east of I-95 on Thursday. You can find those evacuation zones here.
It is important to watch the news and listen to instructions. If your area is being evacuated, then you should evacuate.
Where Do You Evacuate To?
If you live in an evacuation zone, it is advised that you move inland, away from the path of the storm, according to CNN. Yes, the roads are congested, but evacuating isn't something you can negotiate. Seeking refuge in a hotel in a different state until the storm passes and the damage is evaluated, at least for a few days, is a viable solution.
For those who can't leave Florida, people can seek refuge in storm shelters. A full list can be found here. Most coastal areas have evacuation routes — the fastest way to transport you out of your evacuation zone — handy online. You can find a map of Florida's evacuation routes here.
Don't mess around and wait until it is too late. If you're in an evacuation zone, and the instructions say to do so, leave.