For Immediate Release: May 31, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, Ofirah.Yheskel@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Department of Emergency Management: Jeff Caldwell, (804) 897-9730, Jeff.Caldwell@vdem.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Urges Coastal Virginians to Prepare Now for Hurricane Season and ‘Know Your Zone’ for Safer Hurricane Evacuations

CHESAPEAKE—Virginia Governor Ralph Northam today reminded coastal Virginia residents that the 2018 hurricane season begins June 1 and the time to prepare is now.

In a press conference at the new City of Chesapeake Public Safety Operations Center, Governor Northam urged all Virginians to prepare for the 2018 hurricane season, which is forecast to be above average for the number and severity of storms. This includes getting flood insurance for your home and business, preparing your family for possible evacuation and having a plan if there are significant power outages and disruptions to normal commercial activities for several days or weeks. Governor Northam also encouraged Virginians to learn which evacuation zone they are in so they can receive important evacuation information and instructions from emergency managers as a storm approaches.

“Citizens across the Commonwealth must recognize that coastal Virginia is most at risk for a major hurricane impact, but storm effects can reach from Southwest Virginia to the National Capitol Region, and from the Shenandoah Valley to the Eastern Shore,” said Governor Northam. “While these powerful and deadly storms can happen throughout the spring, summer and fall, the traditional Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. The time for all Virginians to prepare is now.”

“One of the perennial threats facing Virginia is our vulnerability to hurricanes and tropical weather systems sweeping up the coast or zeroing in on this region from the Atlantic,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “While Virginia has been fortunate enough not to have endured a direct hurricane hit from a major hurricane in recent decades, we are increasingly more likely to experience a severe event—perhaps as early as the 2018 hurricane season, which begins tomorrow, June 1.”

“With the images of 2017’s deadly and devastating hurricanes—which struck Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas and Florida—still indelible for many, Virginia emergency managers at the local and state level began preparing months ago for this year’s hurricane season,” said Dr. Jeff Stern, State Coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “However, government alone cannot make Virginians hurricane ready. Preparing for hurricanes is a responsibility shared by all Virginians.”

Twenty-three coastal Virginia localities have partnered with the Virginian Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) to develop tiered evacuation zones for Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore based on the most up-to-date metrological and engineering data for the region. One key part of preparing for this hurricane season is encouraging all 1.25 million residents of coastal Virginia localities participating in the program to “Know Your Zone.”

The zones are designated A through D and will provide residents with a better understanding of whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home, based on their street address and the speed, intensity, track and storm surge potentials for each storm.

Avoiding unnecessary evacuation travel will reduce traffic congestion, promote highway safety, and lessen overcrowding at storm shelters. The new zones enhance the current evacuation plans and routes already designated in coastal Virginia.

When a serious storm is expected to impact Virginia’s coastal region, state and local emergency managers will use social media and work with local news media outlets to broadcast and publish evacuation directives to the public. These instructions will be issued to residents based upon the zones in which they live.

The new evacuation zones can be viewed at www.KnowYourZoneVA.org. The Know Your Zone website displays a detailed, interactive, color-coded map showing the new evacuation zones. Users can enter their address in the search bar to see their designated evacuation zone. Those without Internet access are urged to contact their local emergency managers or call 2-1-1.

Local officials and emergency management professionals throughout the region have been actively involved in the new evacuation planning and can assist citizens in identifying their new evacuation zones. Those residents not located in a designated zone are not expected to have to evacuate, but should still heed local and state official instructions if they are issued for the general population.

Know Your Zone will serve residents in the: cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach; counties of Accomack, Essex, Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond County, Surry, Westmoreland, York, and the town of Chincoteague.

PREPARE NOW
To further prepare for this hurricane season, it’s important to know what to do to protect yourself, loved ones, your business and your community.

Know your risk for inland or coastal flooding, and take steps to mitigate that risk.
Obtain flood insurance now. Regular homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. Remember, it takes 30 days for a flood insurance policy to become effective. FEMA does not provide comprehensive funding to repair homes that flooded but didn’t have insurance. Visit www.floodsmart.gov or talk to your insurance agent about low-cost flood insurance policy options. Learn more about becoming flood ready at http://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threat/floods/.

Have a family and business emergency plan that includes decisions on whether, how and where to evacuate, or how to safely shelter in place.
Don’t have a plan? Learn what to include at http://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/make-emergency-plan/.

Assemble an emergency kit that includes nonperishable food, water, sanitary supplies, cell phones, radios and extra batteries and important documents.
Learn more about what to have in your kit at http://www.vaemergency.gov/emergency-kit/.

Stay informed as a storm approaches by following your local media, the National Weather Service and VDEM on Facebook and Twitter.
To learn more, visit www.vaemergency.gov/hurricanes. Know your hurricane evacuation zone for both your home and your workplace by visiting www.KnowYourZoneVA.org.

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