How to effectively plan your evacuation in the event of a hurricane

Stock image/Ray Bilcliff
Stock image/Ray Bilcliff (Pexels)

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With hurricanes a major threat to the Houston-Galveston region, it may become necessary to evacuate portions of the area, depending on the severity of the hurricane.

Planning ahead is vital to evacuating quickly and safely. Residents on the coast can take steps to prepare for an evacuation by knowing specific evacuation zone and the evacuation routes in their community.

Here are key items to know if in need of evacuating due to a hurricane, according to the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Know your zone

Should an evacuation become necessary, authorities will have evacuation orders in a phased approach by ZIP code zone, or Zip Zone.

Knowing a zone will help people better understand when and if there’s a need to evacuate during a hurricane. It will also help avoid unnecessary evacuation travel, thereby reducing highway traffic, helping overcrowding at local storm shelters, and aiding public safety.

To find a detailed Zip Zone map for the Southeast Texas region, click or tap here.

Know your evacuation routes

It is important to know nearby hurricane evacuation routes ahead of time so that families can evacuate quickly and safely when necessary.

To find a detailed map of evacuation routes, click or tap here.

Evacuation tips

Here are some tips to follow in case of an evacuation:

1. Have a plan

Hurricanes bring hazards such as storm surges, inland flooding and strong winds. It’s important to understand what types of hazards could occur where you live and formulate a plan on how to best prepare.

2. Build your emergency kit

Make an emergency supply kit with essential supplies should there be a need to evacuate. Check out this emergency essentials checklist from Harris County, which includes essential items to protect against COVID-19.

Visit ready.gov/pets for more information about preparing pets for a natural disaster.

3. Review important documents

Types of important documents include identification, insurance information and medical information. It’s a good idea to make copies and keep them in a safe deposit box or in a secure, password-protected digital space.

4. Prepare your family

Make sure each member of your household is familiar with the evacuation zone, evacuation routes and where to stay. Practice with family and pets.

Residents with special needs can sign up for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR). The STEAR program provides local emergency planners and first responders with additional information on the needs in their community.

5. Pay attention to alerts and warnings

Residents can download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Be aware of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert, which requires no signup.

6. Evacuate when you’re told

Evacuate only when instructed to do so by area officials. By waiting until Zip Zone is called to evacuate, you can help reduce congestion and allow roadway safety for fellow travelers. Likewise, be prepared to evacuate immediately.

For more information on how to plan for a hurricane evacuation and for other disaster preparedness resources, click or tap here.