May 22, 2023 – Flagler County Emergency Management staff members have no crystal ball to predict when or where tropical storms and hurricanes will hit, but as keen preparedness practitioners, they offer up sage advice about what to do – and where to look for pertinent information – to ensure visitors, residents, and businesses are ready for whatever the 2023 hurricane season brings.
“There are some key changes in how we will do our messaging and the calls-to-action that we will issue,” said Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord. “Last year, evacuation orders included neighborhoods and Zones A-F. To communicate with our community more clearly, this year we will only be announcing evacuations using neighborhood names or descriptions.”
Typically, it is the risk of storm surge and potential flooding that trigger evacuation orders, which are most often for the areas on our coastal island, areas adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway, all mobile homes regardless of location, and low-lying flood prone areas.
“With better storm prediction capabilities, we have a new map to help our community understand who may need to evacuate in a hurricane. This map includes an eastern Potential Hurricane Evacuation Zone and a western Potential Lake Flood Zone,” Lord said. “Our Geographic Information Systems team did a great job helping us to analyze the new data and create this map. You can go to the Emergency Management website and click on Hurricane Evacuation Zones now to enter your address to find out if your neighborhood is one that may be ordered to evacuate for a hurricane. It is important to note that every storm is different and the neighborhoods that we need to evacuate may change each time.”
In addition to the updated hurricane evacuation information, Emergency Management is moving away from closing the coastal island bridges, in most circumstances and instead will be providing more proactive public communications about when it is not safe to be on the road or bridge access is limited.
Individual, household, and business preparedness – for all disasters, not just tropical storms and hurricanes – is urged. For more guidance on how to prepare for and deal with disasters, download the countywide Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Guide at www.FlaglerCounty.gov/emergency, or pick-up a copy at any local library, the Flagler Beach Historical Museum, and many other government offices. The latest version of this guide includes the new Potential Hurricane Evacuation Zones map.
Disaster preparedness steps include:
- Build a disaster supply kit – that contains food, water, medications, flashlights and batteries, and clothing to live “off the grid” for a full seven (7) days.
- Make a plan – that includes home or business structural preparation, where to stay if evacuated (shelters will open but are to be considered the option of last resort), how to communicate with loved ones, consideration of any special needs that should be addressed.
- Be informed – sign up for emergency notifications at www.FlaglerCounty.gov/AlertFlagler, and have a battery powered AM/FM radio.
- Get involved – register for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training and other volunteering and training opportunities by going to www.FlaglerCounty.gov/emergency and selecting “Volunteering & Training.”
“We encourage our community to take advantage of the upcoming statewide Disaster Sales Tax Holiday, to save money as you build or update your disaster supply kit,” Lord said. “It will likely begin Memorial Day Weekend, and we will provide updated information on our social media accounts as soon as it is available.”
Residents are encouraged to like and follow FlaglerEOC on social media. Even those who are not social media users can view Emergency Management’s latest updates by visiting:
- Instagram: www.Instagram.com/FlaglerEOC
- Twitter: www.Twitter.com/FlaglerEOC
- Facebook: www.Facebook.com/FlaglerEOC
For more information about emergency preparedness, please visit www.FlaglerCounty.gov/emergency or call 386-313-4200 during normal business hours.