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Hurricanes, Your Home, and Evaluation Routes

September 11, 2023
by ChristinaV | For Seniors

Hurricanes, Your Home, and Evacuation Routes

Although Hurricane Idalia is the first seasonal storm to impact Florida for 2023, you can rest assured it will not be the last.  We have covered hurricane preparedness previously in this blog, but this will cover a few different preparedness items.

Know Your Home

  • How is your home constructed?  Is it cinder block, frame, manufactured, etc.?
  • Knowing how your home is constructed will help you decide whether or not to shelter in place in the event of a hurricane.
  • And whether or not you decide to shelter in place should also be determined by what category (Cat) the impending hurricane is ().
    • Cat 1 = Very dangerous winds between 74 and 95 mph that can cause extensive damage to roofs, shingles, vinyl siding, gutters, etc.  Large tree branches will snap, and trees may topple.  Power outages may occur.
    • Cat 2 = Extremely dangerous winds between 96 and 110 mph that can cause major roof and siding damage, as well as toppled trees blocking roadways and electrical outages.
    • Cat 3 = Devastating winds between 111 and 129 mph may cause major damage to well-built frame homes, roofs, gables, etc.  Trees will topple, blocking roads.  Electricity and water may be unavailable for days to weeks after the storm.  Flooding from storm surge in low-lying areas is highly possible.
    • Cat 4 = Catastrophic winds between 130 and 156 mph will cause severe damage to walls and roofs of homes.  Most trees and/or power poles will be downed, and entire areas can be isolated with no electricity or water for weeks to months.  Flooding from storm surge in low-lying areas and even well ashore is highly probable.
    • Cat 5 = Catastrophic winds of 157 mph and higher will result in total destruction of a large percentage of framed homes, and probable roof failure on others.  Residential areas will be isolated and power outages will last weeks to months.  Flooding from storm surge is highly probable in low-lying areas and even well ashore.

Zones and Evacuation

  • Know what zone your home (or where you currently live) is in.
  • It is important to know if you are in an area that is prone to flooding or flood surges.  These zones are listed as A (most severe) to E or whatever else each hurricane warrants.
  • Florida has a web page that is updated continuously to provide the most accurate information.  You can find this page at
  • To the right of the page is listed everything you need to know regarding disasters, flooding, hurricane preparedness, and evacuations.  There is a place to type in your address and it will tell you what zone you are considered to be in for the current impending hurricane or other disaster.
  • If you are in an evacuation zone, listen to evacuation orders from local officials.  Typically, Zone A is the most vulnerable and the most likely to evacuate first, while Zone E is most likely to evacuate last.
  • If an evacuation order is issued for your zone, know what your plan is.  Are you going to evacuate to another area entirely or will you be going to a shelter?  Do not wait until the last minute to determine where you will go or what shelter will best accommodate your needs.  Roadways become very congested, and shelters fill up quickly once an order is issued.
  • You don’t necessarily need to travel 100s of miles to evacuate.  Perhaps just another county or two away would be sufficient but check the path of the storm to be certain.
  • Fill up your vehicle(s) in advance of the storm, because once the storm hits, options for gas may be limited or non-existent.
  • Keep in mind that if you plan to evacuate to a hotel/motel and they lose power, you will probably not be able to stay there unless they have a generator.
  • Remember and bring with you the 5 Ps of evacuation:
    • People and pet supplies
    • Prescriptions
    • Papers
    • Personal needs
    • Priceless items
  • Lastly, do not panic.  If you are prepared in advance, you should be able to get to safety with the essential items that you need.

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