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Pinellas County updates hurricane evacuation zones; change affects nearly 48K households

Pinellas County Emergency Management
Posted at 8:49 AM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 17:19:21-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  — Pinellas County’s Emergency Management department announced updated hurricane evacuation zones on Wednesday and said the change affects nearly 48,000 households.

Officials said the change is based on the latest storm surge data from the National Hurricane Center. The 2022 hurricane season officially starts on June 1.

Residents can check their evacuation zones in several ways:

  • Look up your address online here
  • Finding it on their next Pinellas County Utilities bill (Note: Bills received prior to May 2022 may not state the updated zone.)
  • Calling (727) 453-3150 (properties with landlines only)

County officials said more than 34,000 homes moved from a lower-risk zone to a higher-risk zone and about 13,600 moved from a higher-risk zone to a lower-risk zone.

Evacuation zones are different from flood zones. Evacuation zones are what county leaders call on in the event they urge people to leave their homes ahead of a major storm. Any residents who live in a mobile home, manufactured home or recreational vehicle (RV) must evacuate if an evacuation of any zone is ordered.

“Knowing your evacuation zone is one of the most important steps in preparing for hurricane season, and it could save your life,” said Pinellas County Emergency Management Director Cathie Perkins. “Once you know your risk, you can make a plan for what you and your family will do if a hurricane comes our way.”

Pinellas County Emergency Management leaders sent out thousands of postcards in the mail to many of the impacted residences including the New Haven Condos in Largo. The community recently went from a level C evacuation to a level A, meaning they would be among the first to have to evacuate in the event of a major storm.

The evacuation zones range from zone A to zone E.

In Debbie Sarcone and Wayne Gay’s case, both of which are residents in the New Haven Condo Community in Largo, the canal behind their home is the reason for the evacuation zone change. The canal leads to Lake Seminole and could contribute to storm surge, according to county leaders.

Emergency Management leaders say knowing your zone ahead of time could save precious time, which you may not have in the lead up to a storm.

Sarcone says this storm season, she’ll be ready. "I know to write out my plan and have the important papers with me, have a go kit and be ready at a moments notice if they call or sound the alarm," she said with confidence.