Make us your home page

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 or (727) 445-4157. Follow @lauracmorel on Twitter.

Traffic choke points


1. Roads in Spring Hill due to large population

2. U.S. 19 due to construction

3. State Road 50 due to construction


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


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


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

  1. Future, Ruff Ryders reunion tour coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa


    Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is in the midst of a killer summer of rock (Green Day, Muse, Linkin Park) and country (Sam Hunt, Lady Antebelleum, Dierks Bentley).

  2. Rubio remains noncommital on Obamacare replacement but a likely yes vote


    Sen. Marco Rubio has been bombarded with phone calls, emails and on Monday, protests took place outside his offices in Doral and Palm Beach Gardens. But while the effort is most unlikely to dissuade the Florida Republican from voting for the Obamacare replacement -- if it even comes up for a vote this week -- he remains …

  3. James Wilder Jr. back at running Canada


    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  4. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas construction licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. What you need to know for Tuesday, June 27


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Former St. Petersburg mayor and current mayoral candidate Rick Baker, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman square off tonight in a debate. [Times]