The state has worked with 20 coastal counties to launch the Know Your Zone online tool to help coastal residents safely evacuate during hurricanes, tropical storms and other hazards.
North Carolina Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks and Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry announced the initiative Thursday that establishes the predetermined evacuation zones.
Some counties only need one zone where others have up to five zones in order to evacuate as efficiently as possible without over evacuating. Some inland counties that are not as susceptible to storm surge developed evacuation zones based on river flooding.
“The goal of Know Your Zone is to educate coastal residents and visitors about their evacuation zones so that everyone knows the zone they live in and knows to look and listen for that zone when evacuations are ordered,” said Hooks. “Knowing your zone and when to evacuate can save lives.”
There is an online address lookup tool for residents find their zone at KnowYourZone.nc.gov or in Spanish at Conozca Su Zona. The website also contains, county-by-county zone maps, educational materials, frequently asked questions and the North Carolina Hurricane Guide. The state hurricane guide, which is available in both print and digital form, provides information for storm preparedness, response and recovery, and has been published in English and Spanish.
Officials began developing zones using storm surge modeling from North Carolina’s Hurricane Evacuation Study. County officials were able to use the study maps to determine potential for inundation, combined with population data and previous experience with coastal evacuations to draft the evacuation zones needed for their county.
In the past, some evacuation orders have been based on local geography and elevations such as all unincorporated areas, low-lying areas or within a certain distance of a particular river or stream.
“Most visitors and some residents will not know if they are in a low-lying area, or how far they are from a river or stream,” said Sprayberry. “Having predetermined zones simplifies the evacuation process for local officials, residents and visitors.”
The ReadyNC website continues to be the source for disaster preparedness information for North Carolina residents, with instructions on creating a family emergency plan and assembling an emergency kit. It also features live information on power outages and open shelters. ReadyNC.org is mobile friendly for phones, tablets and desktop computers and is available in English and Spanish.