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June 1, 2017 – Gov. Terry McAuliffe came to Hampton to unveil Virginia’s new hurricane preparedness website and tiered evacuation system at a news conference at Fort Monroe on Thursday, the official start of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.
“It’s not a matter of if, it’s when Virginia will be in the eye of a major hurricane,” said McAuliffe. The governor announced the plan, which is standardized for all Virginia coastal communities, as part of his priority to modernize the state’s evacuation plans.
Maps showing the new hurricane evacuation zones can be found at www.KnowYourZoneVA.org. Enter an address in the search bar to see whether a property is in zone A, B, C or D. The website and tiered zones are meant “to provide residents with precise and useful information about properties vulnerable to flooding during storms,” and to help them determine whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter in place, according to emergency management .
If you don’t have access to the web, you can contact 311 (757-727-8311 from a cell phone or from outside the city) to find out which zone you’re in. The website also includes information on the different types of emergencies and disasters that can occur in Virginia, supplies you’ll need for an emergency kit, the history of hurricanes in Virginia, and insurance options for your property.
Developed by a global engineering firm, the website and evacuation zones were created in concert with local police, fire and emergency officials. They used “surge zone” maps as well as other criteria to determine whether a property should be in zone A (generally the most at risk), zone B, zone C or zone D.
What does it mean for Hampton residents? Recent evacuations have generally been of the lowest-lying areas. Previously called them Surge Zone 1, they were colored red on the city map. There will be a greater number of households in the highest-risk zone in the new maps, where they will appear in blue and labeled Zone A. Residents formerly in Hampton’s surge zones 2, 3, and 4 also may find a shift in the mapping of the new Zones B, C, and D.
Hampton Vice Mayor Linda Curtis noted that Hampton’s 124 miles of waterfront offer beauty, recreation, seafood and commerce, yet also bring “inherent risks.” She praised state and local officials for partnering in disaster planning to help keep people and property safe.
The new evacuation zones include about 1.25 million people living in the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach; the counties of Accomack, Essex, Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond, Surry, Westmoreland and York, and the town of Chincoteague. Get more information online.