HURRICANE CENTRAL - Storm surge is the real killer when it comes to hurricanes. Emergency managers around Southwest Florida have a saying: "we want you to hide from the wind and run from the water"
This year our local storm surge prediction maps have changed and everyone needs to take a look. New technology led to improvements in forecast accuracy and the new storm surge modeling allowed local emergency managers to fine tune their evacuation plans. Both Charlotte and Lee counties have introduced "Evacuation Zone" maps that will give you a better idea of your risk to a major hurricane.
"The new maps represent a new representation of the best science that's out there," Gerald Campbell, Chief of Planning with Lee County Emergency Management explained. "What we found was that the bottom of the Gulf was a little bit higher than what we thought it was, the land is a little bit lower than what we thought it was... and so when we put all three of those things together, it created the need for a new map and for a new approach to some of the evacuation decision making that we do now."
In both Charlotte and Lee counties you will want to find your approximate location and the corresponding lettered zone on the new evacuation maps. In the event of an evacuation, emergency managers will refer to a particular zone and if it is your zone, it's time to evacuate.
"We do what we're calling a phased evacuation and we're going for more of a 'just in time' approach to an evacuation instead of a 'just in case' way that we used to do business. We used to evacuate people just in case it got worse than we thought. Today we work to be just in time and that's an important change because we're not risking people's safety," Campbell told WINK.
Starting this season, the evacuation process will be somewhat simplified. Know your zone and leave when your zone is placed under an evacuation order.
To look at the evacuation maps and surge maps, click on the links below:
Lee County evacuation map
Charlotte County evacuation map & flood zone maps
Collier County surge map
Collier County evacuation map