Wednesday, July 24, 2024

‘Know Your Zone’: Is your house in an evacuation zone? Where are the shelters?

Know Your Zone is a tiered evacuation plan that covers coastal Virginia and its 1.25 million residents. Areas are divided into zones A through D, with D being the last to evacuate. (WYDaily/Courtesy VDEM)
“Know Your Zone” is a tiered evacuation plan that covers coastal Virginia and its 1.25 million residents. Areas are divided into zones A through D, with D being the last to evacuate. (WYDaily/Courtesy VDEM)

As Hurricane Florence fast approaches and local governments and emergency crews prepare for the worst, there’s one common phrase we’re all hearing:

“Know Your Zone.”

“Know Your Zone” is a tiered evacuation plan that covers coastal Virginia and its 1.25 million residents. Areas are divided into zones A through D, with D being the last to evacuate.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A, which went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Meteorologists are forecasting Florence’s winds to start blowing on the East Coast on Wednesday at the earliest, but the area will most likely start feeling the storm’s effects  Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.

Florence has sustained winds up to 130 mph and could dump over 10 inches of rain in the Williamsburg area through the weekend.

So, what does that forecast mean for those in the Historic Triangle?

Here’s the breakdown of the ‘Know Your Zone’ map on the Virginia Peninsula:

Most of James City County, Williamsburg and York County are not in an evacuation zone under the “Know Your Zone” plan.

Those who are in an evacuation zone are mostly along the James and York Rivers. 

Here is a breakdown of the area evacuation areas:

  • Jamestown Island, Seaford and parts of Poquoson are in Zone A.
  • Zone B includes other areas of Poquoson, parts of Dare, the Jamestown Road and Neck O Land Road area, parts of Governor’s Land and neighborhoods along the Chickahominy River.
  • Zone C includes neighborhoods between Mill Creek and College Creek, areas in lower York County and near the Diascund Creek near the New Kent County line.
  • There are no Zone D areas in Williamsburg or James City County, although there are some Zone D neighborhoods in lower York County near Route 17.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s website has been experiencing technical difficulties, but the “Know Your Zone” map is still functional.

James City County also built its own “Know Your Zone” map to aid those who cannot access the state website.

So what happens if an evacuation is ordered for your area and you don’t leave?

Areas of North Carolina and Virginia already have been ordered to evacuate, including the Outer Banks and Zone A in Virginia.

If a zone is ordered to evacuate, residents in that area should follow evacuation routes specified on the “Know Your Zone” map. From the Williamsburg area, that means Interstate 64 west or U.S. 60 west.

On Monday, state officials said those who don’t evacuate under a mandatory order could face misdemeanor charges, although it’s unclear whether Virginia State Police will enforce that law.

State officials said police are unlikely to go door-to-door to check on evacuees because it is not a proper use of resources.

In a Facebook post, the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office said its deputies will not arrest or charge any residents if they do not evacuate.

Where are the shelters?

York County has opened a shelter at Tabb High School, 4431 Big Bethel Road.

The shelter will open at 2 p.m. Wednesday and is for residents who cannot find safe refuge elsewhere, the county said in a news release.

Two state-managed shelters are opening Wednesday, according to a press release from the office of Governor Ralph Northam.

One of the shelters will be at William & Mary, and Christopher Newport University’s Freeman Center at 1 University Place in Newport News will also serve as a shelter during the storm.

“Virginians are heeding our advice to seek higher ground and safe shelter in advance of Hurricane Florence,” Northam said. “We encourage citizens to seek shelter first with friends and family, to consider hotels outside of evacuation areas, and then look to local shelters, and lastly to state shelters. Leave early. Plan to be off the roads before the storm arrives to avoid unsafe driving situations and traffic congestion, and stay put until the storm passes.”

York County has also opened three parking lots for residents to park their boats, trailers and recreational vehicles at the following locations:

  • The McReynolds Athletic Complex (MAC), 412 Sports Way, 23692
  • Chisman Creek Park, 1314 Wolf Trap Road, 23692
  • Kiln Creek Park, 2901 Kiln Creek Parkway, 23693

James City County and Williamsburg have not yet announced the locations of any emergency shelters.

Service animals are allowed in the Tabb High School shelter. Other pets also are allowed, but they will be crated and kept in a separate area away from their owners. Owners will be allowed to visit and tend to their pets’ needs.

The shelter recommends owners board their pets at a safe location, such as with friends or relatives, at a kennel or with a veterinarian.

Here is a list of items to bring to the shelter:

  • Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags or air mattresses
  • Extra clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, etc.
  • Cellphones/electronic devices with chargers
  • Folding chairs, lawn chairs or cots
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Quiet games, books and favorite toys
  • Important papers
  • Prescription medications
  • Food items/snacks/baby food and formula

Alcohol and weapons are not allowed in the shelter. 

For more information on York County, check the county’s website — www.yorkcounty.gov — and social media pages (Facebook: @yorkcountyva and Twitter: @YorkCountyVAGov), and on the county’s cable channel — WYCG-TV Cox 46, Verizon 38.

For more information on James City County check the county’s website — https://jamescitycountyva.gov/ — and social media pages (Facebook: @jamescitycounty and Twitter: @JamesCityCounty).

For more information on Williamsburg check the city’s website — http://www.williamsburgva.gov/ — and social media pages (Facebook: @Williamsburg.Virginia and Twitter: @WilliamsburgGov).

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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