Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hurricane evacuation becomes easier with a plan

Traffic tie-ups can occur before and after an evacuation, as residents of southwest Florida discovered post-Hurricane Charley.

Getty Images (2004)

Traffic tie-ups can occur before and after an evacuation, as residents of southwest Florida discovered post-Hurricane Charley.

For the Tampa Bay area, the year 2013 brought another quiet hurricane season.

Andrea, the only tropical storm to affect Florida, produced rainfall and gusty winds along Florida's west coast, including Hernando County, but no widespread damage.

While most of us welcome slow hurricane seasons, they pose a dilemma for emergency management officials.

Will the lack of any large-scale evacuations since 2004 make the public less aware, or less ready, if an evacuation is ordered?

Just because an evacuation hasn't occurred in years "doesn't mean it's not going to happen today," said Pasco emergency management director Annette Doying.

Doying, as well as emergency officials in Pinellas, Hernando and Hillsborough, are urging residents to plan ahead in case of a large-scale evacuation.

The first step: Know your evacuation zone. Residents also should decide where they will go, which might include staying with family or reserving a hotel room, officials said.

Going to a shelter should be a last resort.

"We're talking about sleeping on the floor," said Tom Iovino, Pinellas emergency management spokesman. "There's very little privacy in those areas."

The second step: Listen to evacuation orders.

"Heed what we say," said Hillsborough emergency management director Preston Cook. "Apathy is the biggest problem that we have."

Evacuations also present distinct challenges for each county.

In Hillsborough, it's traffic.

"We have heavy traffic conditions on a good day," Cook said. The likelihood of Pinellas residents driving into Hillsborough is another factor officials must take into account when planning an evacuation order.

In Hernando, the ongoing construction on State Road 50 is emergency management director Cecilia Patella's "main challenge" this year.

Evacuating thousands of residents out of Pinellas, the most densely populated county in the state, also could pose traffic challenges. Hotels along the beach will begin evacuating when a hurricane watch goes into effect, Iovino said.

And in Pasco County, a "significant amount" of residents live within the evacuation zones, Doying said.

To diminish traffic during a large-scale evacuation, Pasco officials are looking at several tactics, including adjusting the timing on traffic signals and making a turn lane along U.S. 19 into another traffic lane.

Laura C. Morel can be reached at lmorel@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4157. Follow @lauracmorel on Twitter.

Traffic choke points

Hernando

1. Roads in Spring Hill due to large population

2. U.S. 19 due to construction

3. State Road 50 due to construction

Pasco

1. U.S. 19 from the county line to State Road 52 due to construction

2. Ridge Road from Broad Street to Moon Lake Road due to construction

3. All Interstate 75 interchanges due to heavy use

4. Suncoast Parkway interchanges due to heavy use

Pinellas

1. Howard Frankland Bridge due to heavy use

2. Gandy Bridge due to heavy use

3. Ulmerton Road from 119th Street to El Centro/Ranchero Boulevard due to construction

4. U.S. 19 from Whitney Road to Countryside Boulevard due to construction

5. Beckett Bridge due to drawbridge delays

6. Dunedin Causeway due to drawbridge delays

7. Indian Rocks Causeway due to drawbridge delays

8. Park Boulevard Bridge due to drawbridge delays

9. Madeira Beach Causeway due to drawbridge delays

10. John's Pass Bridge due to drawbridge delays

11. Treasure Island Causeway due to drawbridge delays

12. Corey Causeway due to drawbridge delays

13. Tierra Verde Bridge due to drawbridge delays

Hillsborough

1. Interstate 275 due to heavy use

2. Interstate 4 due to heavy use

3. Interstate 75 due to heavy use

4. State Road 60 due to heavy use

5. Courtney Campbell Causeway due to heavy use

Hurricane evacuation becomes easier with a plan 05/12/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2014 8:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii

    Military

    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.