Why evacuate? What does an evacuation order mean? Who should evacuate? How far should you go?
An evacuation is ordered because life threatening conditions are present, or will be present, in the area designated as a "mandatory evacuation zone". For a tropical cyclone event, we should "Run from Water and Hide from Wind". So, if you're threatened by the storm's surgeyou should go to a safe location before the threat arrives.
If a mandatory evacuation order is given, in addition to communicating where lives are threatened, government is also communicating where emergency services (police, fire and emergency medical) will cease until the threat no longer exists. Read about two people who tried to tough-out Hurricane Ike on Galveston Island. CLICK HERE for an excerpt from the newspaper.
If you're in a mandatory evacuation zone, officials may go door-to-door advising you of an evacuation order, but they will not force you out of your house. They may ask for your next-of-kin information, so please cooperate. Remember, your decision to remain in a mandatory evacuation zone is "YOURS".
In any case, we'd like you to make an informed decision. You need to know your threat, e.g., wind &/or water, and your vulnerability, e.g., rising Gulf waters threatening the house. Regarding the wind threat most newly constructed homes will generally protect you up to a Category 2 hurricane. You can still do stuff to make yourself safer by picking up and storing the objects that might be carried by the wind and smash into your house and/or installing hurricane window/door protection devices.
To assess your vulnerability to the water threat you need to look at the "abbreviated surge map" for evacuation planning or the map in the All Hazards Guide
and see where you live with respect to the hurricane threat. Another item for you to consider is the closer you are to the coastline, the more vulnerable you might be to the "wave action"
on top of the storm surge. The surge map is a planning tool because one storm will not affect the entire 50-mile coastline of Collier County in the same way. The Board of County Commissioners, armed with the recommendations offered by their Emergency Operations Center staff will determine the mandatory evacuation zone based on the characteristics of each storm. It's then up to you to implement your plan.
How far should you go if your plan dictates you need to evacuate? Again, we evacuate to get out of harm's way - the water threat. Therefore, for most of our tropical events, you only needed to go inland (to the inland side of I-75) within Collier County. Naturally, you can go further away, but remember for every 24 hours ahead of the storm, the storm may deviate 75 miles from the projected track. So, if you choose to go outside the county, don't consider going to another coastline vulnerable to storm surge should the storm's track change.
If you'd like to make a detailed personal disaster plan, go to www.floridadisaster.org
and click on Get a Family Plan. It's free and doesn't take that much time.