For the first time since 2005, Jacksonville's emergency planners have revamped evacuation zones for major weather disasters.
Previously, the evacuation and disaster plan was solely based on the threat of hurricanes, which only took wind speed into account, Director of Emergency Preparedness, Steven Woodard said. The maps will now help homeowners prepare for storm surge damage as well.
Innovations and updates in science and technology allowed for the EOC to reconsider their previous focus on wind speed, which only contributes to about five percent of fatalities in hurricanes, Emergency Preparedness Planner Alex Pellom said. Most fatalities associated with a hurricane are attributed to storm surges or water related deaths.
“The important thing for our citizens is to know your zone. Know where you live, know where you work and know what zone those areas are in,” Woodard said.
The zoning revision is based on the areas that would need critical attention, such as Jacksonville Beach and the areas along the St. John’s River that are vulnerable to the effects of catastrophic weather. The zones are labeled A-F, depending on the potential storm damage in the region.
“Preparedness is the message,” Pellom said. “It’s important for people to always be prepared; to understand where they are, what the threats are. We’re hoping for a very quiet season but it only takes one hurricane.”
Another important thing for people to remember during an evacuation is the location of disaster shelters in their area, Pellom said. There are three types of shelters in Duval County: general population shelters, special needs shelter and pet friendly shelters.
For more information or to search your evacuation zone by address, visit jaxready.org.