JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Days before the start of the 2014 hurricane season, the city of Jacksonville released brand new evacuation maps.
In the past, evacuation were based only on the strength of an approaching storm and how fast it was moving. In the new maps (shown at bottom of this article), the city and federal government based evacuation zones on different factors: storm surge and flooding, so areas along the river far from the coast would be evacuated at the same time as people living along the coast.
"In the past it was based solely on wind speed, the category of the approaching storm. But currently there are areas prone to fresh-water flooding that were not incorporated in the methodology in the past," said Steven Woodard, director of Duval County Emergency Management.
Emergency officials' advice to residents: Know your zone.
People living in Zone A would be the first to evacuate. You'd expect in beachfront homes to be asked to leave first, but under the new plan there were areas in the Northside and Southside and even parts of the Westside along inland waterways that would also be told to evacuate.
Zone B is primarily at the beaches, but there are some parts downtown and the Northside. Zone C are areas again near the beaches, but more people on the Northside and some downtown areas would also be effected. Zone D would be inland areas on the Northside and along the beaches near the southern end of the county and more areas areas on the Westside. Zone E would be told to go if the city were to take a direct hit from a major storm. Zone F are the traditional flooding zones -- low-lying areas areas were people frequently experience flooding.
DOWNLOAD/PRINT: Duval County's new evacuation map
Based on the new map, during a severe storm much of the beaches and Northside would evacuate while most of the Southside would shelter in place.
"We want people to go to an area where they are safe, and this gives us a new tool to be able to message that," Woodard said. "It will be flexible to be able to call various zones to be evacuated."
Even though the season is predicted to be mild, city leaders want you to be ready.
To look up the evacuation zone of your property, visit maps.COJ.net, enter your property location and scroll down and check the box for "evacuation zone."