Evacuation Zone vs. Flood Zone
Two essential terms that every Florida resident should be familiar with are "Evacuation Zone" and "Flood Zone." While both terms are related to potential emergencies, it's important to have a solid understanding of what these zones mean for your specific property BEFORE you purchase your home and certainly BEFORE an emergency strikes.
What is an Evacuation Zone?
An Evacuation Zone is an area designated by local authorities that may be at risk of severe impacts, mainly storm surge, from a hurricane or tropical storm. Storm surge is the abnormal rise in sea level brought about by the powerful winds and low pressure at the center of a hurricane, which can inundate coastal areas and cause significant flooding.
Florida has five surge zones ranked by the risk of storm surge impact (A, B, C, D & E). Coastal areas are usually included in Zone A, and are the most likely to be evacuated first. Evacuation zones are usually color-coded on maps to make them easily identifiable. It's essential for residents to know which evacuation zone they reside in to understand their risk and respond appropriately when evacuation orders are issued.
Lee County residents can click this link to find your Evacuation Zone: http://leegis.leegov.com/evacuationzones
Understanding Flood Zones
Flood Zones, on the other hand, are areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) based on the likelihood of flooding during heavy rainfall events or storm surges. These zones are typically categorized as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) and are classified by letters such as A, AE, X, etc. Each zone corresponds to a specific flood risk, with Zone A being at high risk and Zone X being at minimal risk.
Flood zones are not limited to coastal areas; they can also include low-lying regions, areas near rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, as well as locations with poor drainage systems. Flood Zone maps (also known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps or FIRMs) are used to determine flood insurance requirements and building construction requirements. It's crucial to understand your property's flood zone designation as it directly impacts your flood insurance requirements and flood preparedness measures.
Lee County residents can click this link to find your Flood Zone:
The primary difference between Evacuation Zones and Flood Zones lies in their focus and purpose. Evacuation Zones are primarily concerned with the potential impact of hurricanes and storm surges, while Flood Zones are focused on assessing the risk of general flooding due to various factors like heavy rainfall, swollen rivers, and coastal flooding.
While Evacuation Zones determine which areas might be at immediate risk during a hurricane, Flood Zones are useful for assessing long-term flood risks and making decisions regarding insurance coverage and property purchases.
Preparedness Measures for Each Zone
- Stay informed about the hurricane forecast and potential evacuation orders from local authorities.
- Have a family emergency plan in place, including knowing your evacuation routes and designated meeting points.
- Prepare an emergency kit with essentials like non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, and important documents.
- Secure your home by boarding up windows and doors, and bring in outdoor furniture and loose objects.
- Consider purchasing flood insurance even if your property is not located in a high-risk zone, as flooding can occur anywhere.
- Elevate electrical systems, HVAC units, and other utilities above potential flood levels.
- Install flood barriers, such as sandbags, to prevent water from entering your home.
- Keep your gutters and drainage systems clean to ensure proper water flow away from your property.