Saturday, December 2, 2023

Northam orders mandatory evacuation for high-risk areas of Hampton Roads

 Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered a mandatory evacuation for Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore for those living in Zone A as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast.

Northam made the announcement during a new conference in North Chesterfield Monday.

The order goes into effect 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to the governor’s office.

“This is a serious storm,” Northam said, describing Zone A as the “most flood-prone area of Hampton Roads and the eastern Shore.”

“I’m giving this announcement to give residents, families, schools and businesses time to prepare,” Northam said, urging Zone A residents to go to “higher ground and inland.”

In light of the governor’s order, classes at public schools in Newport News and Hampton are canceled until further notice starting Tuesday.

In Newport News, all 12-month employees, custodial staff and plant services staff are asked to report on time on Tuesday to prepare for the impending weather.

Thomas Nelson Community College’s Hampton campus will close at 8 a.m. Tuesday. It will reopen Sunday. Thomas Nelson officials ask that all “essential personnel” report to their supervisors.

At around noon Monday, the National Hurricane Center said Florence rapidly strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane as it closed in on North and South Carolina.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management launched the “Know Your Zone” program in spring 2017 to streamline evacuation efforts in the event of a powerful hurricane passing over Hampton Roads. The designations address flood-prone areas, with the most at-risk areas designated “Zone A” and the least at-risk designated “Zone D.”

Residents of individual zones may be directed by local emergency managers to evacuate along a predetermined path ahead of a storm’s landfall.


By noon EDT on Monday, Florence had top sustained winds of 130 mph (195 kph). It was centered about 1,230 miles (1,985 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph (20 kph). Its center will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The National Weather Service is forecasting what could be “Virginia’s most significant hurricane event in decades.”

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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