The Commonwealth of Virginia has released a new system of tiered hurricane evacuation zones for coastal Virginia. The “Know Your Zone” evacuation plan was designed to enhance current evacuation plans, boost public safety, and improve travel efficiency in the event of hurricanes or other disasters.
Know Your Zone will serve about 1.25 million people who live in coastal Virginia, the region of the state most vulnerable to hurricanes and other storms.
Know Your Zone will serve residents in the following Virginia localities: cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach; counties of Accomack, Essex, Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond County, Surry, Westmoreland, York, and the town of Chincoteague.
Hurricanes cause high winds, tornadoes and landslides, but their deadliest hazard is flooding. Tropical storms and depressions can be just as dangerous. Over the past several decades, hurricanes have repeatedly battered eastern Virginia, killing dozens of people and causing billions of dollars in damage.
Different hurricanes can bring vastly different impacts, depending on tides, storm intensity, path, and other meteorological factors.
The tiered evacuation zones were developed in close cooperation with local emergency managers throughout Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore, and are based on the most up-to-date engineering data for the region.
The zones are designated A through D and will provide residents with a better understanding of whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home, based on their street address and the nature of the emergency event.
Avoiding unnecessary evacuation travel will reduce traffic congestion, promote highway safety, and lessen overcrowding at storm shelters. The new zones enhance the current evacuation plans and routes already designated in coastal Virginia.
When a serious storm is expected to impact Virginia’s coastal region, state and local emergency managers will work with local news media outlets that will broadcast and publish evacuation directives to the public.
The new evacuation zones can be viewed at www.KnowYourZoneVA.org.
“This new evacuation plan represents a significant step toward ensuring the safety of the Commonwealth’s residents and visitors,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The new data-driven plan will streamline the evacuation process by providing accurate and useful information to citizens based on their street addresses. And, because it will be vitally important for people to be aware of the new system, we’re launching a public information campaign called Know Your Zone.”
source: Virginia Department of Emergency Management