With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Southwest Florida, emergency response officials are urging residents to familiarize themselves with their county's various evacuation zones, and the zone they will be sheltering in during the storm.
Below are the listed evacuation zones for Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, Collier, and Sarasota counties, and evacuation zone maps of each county. Click on each zone's title for a full description. You can also go to floridadisaster.org to look up a country not on this page.
Evacuation Zone A - the most vulnerable area, and first to be impacted for a land-falling storm. Evacuation is often required for any named storm coming from the Gulf, and may also be necessary for exiting storms. Due to the low elevation and proximity to beaches and other tidal waters (rivers, creeks and canals), potentially fatal storm surge and large, crashing waves are the most extreme dangers. However, winds will also be highest in Zone A and pose additional dangers. Zone A will be the first area ordered to evacuate. This will most likely come early in any storm event, when the skies are clear and the weather seems fine.
Evacuation Zone B - very vulnerable and will experience significant impacts from land-falling storms. Evacuation will often be required for a hurricane coming from the Gulf. Winds in exiting storms may also require evacuation. While not the lowest in elevation or closest to tidal water, Zone B is still vulnerable to potentially fatal levels of storm surge and some wave action. Since foundations here may not be as strong as areas closest to the water, homes may fail when flooded. Wind will also pose a danger, especially to unprepared homes. Zone B will be among the first areas ordered to evacuate for a hurricane. This will likely come early, when the skies are clear and the weather seems fine.
Evacuation Zone C - vulnerable to hurricane impacts. A large and/or powerful hurricane from the Gulf may require evacuations for surge and/or wind. Well constructed buildings may be safe in many circumstances. While the risk is less, Zone C is still vulnerable to potentially fatal levels of storm surge flooding. Since foundations here may not be as strong as areas closest to the water, homes may fail when flooded. Wind can pose a danger to unprepared or poorly constructed homes. Zone C will be evacuated later than Zone A or Zone B. This will allow decision makers more time to safely evaluate options to either evacuate or hunker down. Even though later in timing, weather will still be calm and time will be sufficient to move to safety if you are prepared.
Evacuation Zone D - one of the least vulnerable Evacuation Zones. Well prepared and protected buildings should be safe in most events. However, if evacuations are required, the safest option may be to travel to the east coast. Wind, including tornados, is the most significant danger in Zone D. Also, heavy rains can flood homes and roads. Freshwater flooding, while uncomfortable, is survivable. A major hurricane could create saltwater surge flooding in some areas and also require evacuations. Zone D will be one of the last areas evacuated. However, if evacuations are ordered, greater distances, and more time, may be required. Time may appear excessive, but it is not! Time will be sufficient to move to safety if you are prepared.
Evacuation Zone E - east vulnerable Evacuation Zone. Well prepared and protected buildings should be safe in all but catastrophic events. Wind, including tornados, poses the most significant danger in Zone E. Also, heavy rains can flood homes and roads. Freshwater flooding, while uncomfortable, is survivable. Simply remain where you are and avoid driving during the storm. Zone E is unlikely to receive evacuation orders. However, you may be required to evacuate if your home is susceptible to wind (mobile homes, substandard construction or unprotected windows and doors).