Hurricanes are the most common reason evacuations are ordered in Santa Rosa County, but orders can be issued at anytime for other types of disasters that will impact our area to ensure the safety of residents and visitors. Evacuations are the movement of people to a safe area from an area believed to be at risk when emergency situations necessitate such action. Being told to evacuate is no doubt disruptive and inconvenient, but it is necessary to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. When evacuation notices are given, residents and visitors must adhere to evacuation guidelines and immediately travel to a place outside of the evacuation zone. In Santa Rosa County, there are two types of evacuations:
Residents in a specific zone must evacuate the area of danger. It is illegal to stay in a home under a mandatory evacuation order. Access to areas may be restricted. Shelters will open in conjunction with mandatory evacuations. Additionally, traffic control measures are implemented.
Residents and visitors in the affected area are encouraged to seek refuge on their own initiative and independently obtain safe accommodations, ideally with family or friends living in an area not within the evacuation zone(s).
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It is your responsibility to determine the risk for your family to stay in Santa Rosa County or to drive hundreds of miles out of town. Evacuating tens of miles to a shelter within the county has its advantages. You can avoid traffic jams and uncertainty that comes with hitting the crowded highways as other counties evacuate along with Santa Rosa. You can avoid going elsewhere in the state only to find the storm has shifted and now you are in harms way. You will also avoid the crowds when the time comes to return home.
Should you decide to stay, plan ahead to find safe shelter. Ask family or friends if you can stay with them during a storm, find a hotel or motel in a safe area of the county, or know where the closest shelter is and how to get there. Just make sure that if you stay, you are in a safe location for the type of event we are experiencing.
When making the decision to evacuate or not, ask yourself these questions:
- Evacuate quickly and in daylight if possible. Tell someone outside the warning area where you are going.
- Follow the official evacuation routes. Have a backup plan in case you cannot reach your "safe-place."
- Keep a full tank of gas in your car.
- Be alert for washed out roads and bridges.
- Do not drive in flooded areas. Stay away from downed power lines.
- Consider the needs of children, the elderly and pets.
- Visit Florida Evacuates for statewide evacuation and shelter information.