Virginia Governor Ralph Northam today reminded coastal Virginia residents that the 2018 hurricane season begins June 1 and the time to prepare is now.
In a press conference at the new City of Chesapeake Public Safety Operations Center, Governor Northam urged all Virginians to prepare for the 2018 hurricane season, which is forecast to be above average for the number and severity of storms. This includes getting flood insurance for your home and business, preparing your family for possible evacuation and having a plan if there are significant power outages and disruptions to normal commercial activities for several days or weeks. Governor Northam also encouraged Virginians to learn which evacuation zone they are in so they can receive important evacuation information and instructions from emergency managers as a storm approaches.
“Citizens across the Commonwealth must recognize that coastal Virginia is most at risk for a major hurricane impact, but storm effects can reach from Southwest Virginia to the National Capitol Region, and from the Shenandoah Valley to the Eastern Shore,” said Governor Northam. “While these powerful and deadly storms can happen throughout the spring, summer and fall, the traditional Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. The time for all Virginians to prepare is now.”
“One of the perennial threats facing Virginia is our vulnerability to hurricanes and tropical weather systems sweeping up the coast or zeroing in on this region from the Atlantic,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “While Virginia has been fortunate enough not to have endured a direct hurricane hit from a major hurricane in recent decades, we are increasingly more likely to experience a severe event—perhaps as early as the 2018 hurricane season, which begins tomorrow, June 1.”
“With the images of 2017’s deadly and devastating hurricanes—which struck Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas and Florida—still indelible for many, Virginia emergency managers at the local and state level began preparing months ago for this year’s hurricane season,” said Dr. Jeff Stern, State Coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “However, government alone cannot make Virginians hurricane ready. Preparing for hurricanes is a responsibility shared by all Virginians.”
Twenty-three coastal Virginia localities have partnered with the Virginian Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) to develop tiered evacuation zones for Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore based on the most up-to-date metrological and engineering data for the region. One key part of preparing for this hurricane season is encouraging all 1.25 million residents of coastal Virginia localities participating in the program to “Know Your Zone.”
The zones are designated A through D and will provide residents with a better understanding of whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home, based on their street address and the speed, intensity, track and storm surge potentials for each storm.
Avoiding unnecessary evacuation travel will reduce traffic congestion, promote highway safety, and lessen overcrowding at storm shelters. The new zones enhance the current evacuation plans and routes already designated in coastal Virginia.
When a serious storm is expected to impact Virginia’s coastal region, state and local emergency managers will use social media and work with local news media outlets to broadcast and publish evacuation directives to the public. These instructions will be issued to residents based upon the zones in which they live.
The new evacuation zones can be viewed at www.KnowYourZoneVA.org. The Know Your Zone website displays a detailed, interactive, color-coded map showing the new evacuation zones. Users can enter their address in the search bar to see their designated evacuation zone. Those without Internet access are urged to contact their local emergency managers or call 2-1-1.
Local officials and emergency management professionals throughout the region have been actively involved in the new evacuation planning and can assist citizens in identifying their new evacuation zones. Those residents not located in a designated zone are not expected to have to evacuate, but should still heed local and state official instructions if they are issued for the general population.
Know Your Zone will serve residents in the: cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach; counties of Accomack, Essex, Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond County, Surry, Westmoreland, York, and the town of Chincoteague.