Know your zone

Published: Updated:
MGN Online

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Where you live is important when it comes to evacuating before a storm. Our communities are divided up into zones which will be used when evacuations are issued.

“We had to get away from just handing out pieces of paper with just a map on it, that really didn’t tell you much of anything,” explained Charlotte County Emergency Management Director, Wayne Sallade.

So, the county created an online site where you could type in your address to find out your zone, But for Sallade, that was not good enough.

“Not everybody’s on the computer yet,” he explained.

With the help of federal grant money and some volunteers Sallade was able to put up more than 9,000 brightly colored collars around Charlotte County letting people know their zone. The colors range in from red to green and they correspond with zones. Zone “A” is the color red and will be the first to be evacuated.

Over the past few years, Lee County has also placed brightly colored squares, with the corresponding zone letter, on signs along evacuations.

“The key there is we want the public to know their evacuation zone they live in that’s one of the most important things we do,” explained Lee County Emergency Management Planning Chief Lee Mayfield. “When we call for evacuations, at the county level, we’ll call them using those evacuation zones.”

Emergency managers say zone “A” will be the first to evacuate, because that is the zone most vulnerable to storm surge.

“Most of the loss of life from hurricanes comes from storm surge so that’s really what we worry about most. It’s what keeps us up late at night,” said Mayfield.

By leaving when the evacuation is ordered, you’ll make sure you’re out of harm’s way in plenty of time.

Along with the colored tags on signs through Lee County, you can also go online to find out your zone, or you can download the county’s “LeeEvac” app, available for ipad, iphone and android devices.

Collier County does not issue evacuation orders by zone. That’s because the county’s zones are divided by major roadways like U.S. 41. If Collier has to call for an evacuation, emergency crews will use those major corridors to tell you who should leave. Click here for a look at the county’s storm surge map

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