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Sept. 5, 2017 - Hurricane Irma continues to gain strength - and remain unpredictable - as it moves through the Caribbean. Area residents are encouraged to keep monitoring the storm and to make sure they review their family disaster plan and disaster kits.
Irma became a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning as it moved towards several Caribbean islands, including Antigua, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The storm's path - and potential impact on Virginia and the East Coast - remains uncertain, however.
Hampton's Office of Emergency Management has been following Irma for several days and has reviewed city emergency plans, including buildings that can be used as shelters for those who don't have other options, available supplies and equipment, city staff and more.
Residents are encouraged to visit http://www.vaemergency.gov/hurricane-evacuation-zone-lookup/ to get the latest information on preparing for a hurricane. Unveiled by the state in June at the start of hurricane season, the website allows you to find out what evacuation zone you live in (A, B, C or D) and what you should do if an evacuation is recommended for your area.
According to the state website, "when a storm is approaching, emergency managers will determine which zones are most at risk considering the intensity, path, speed, tides and other meteorological factors. Emergency managers at the state and local level will work with local media and use social media and other tools to notify residents of impacted zones what they should do to stay safe." The website goes on to say that "depending on the emergency, being safe might mean staying at home, a short trip to higher ground, or traveling to a different region of the state."
The latest on Irma from the National Weather Service can be found online at https:www.weather.gov/akq/Irma or http://hurricanes.gov. Go to http://www.vaemergency.gov/hurricane-evacuation-zone-lookup/ for more information about the "Know Your Zone" program, and visit http://www.hampton.gov/242/Emergency-Management-Office for more information about the city's Office of Emergency Management.