How To Determine Your Dunedin, FL Hurricane Evacuation Zone?

Most Floridians know that the hurricane season is as certain as the changing of the season.  Every year, it rolls around and attention is paid to the Atlantic, the Gulf and our favorite weather outlet. Hurricane season runs from July to November, with the occasional storm coming just before or just after the season.  Residents and visitors to Dunedin need to know the storm track and more importantly, know their zone.

It is essential for every Floridian and visitor to know how to determine your hurricane or evacuation zone. So, in this article we will be looking at how to determine your Dunedin, FL hurricane evacuation zone.

Pinellas County has a number of resources and maps that will assist you in determining your specific hurricane evacuation zone.  The zone can vary from street to street, so the Pinellas County mapper allows you to search by your exact address.

Emergency Hurricane Protocols and Zone Information

The first step is to find your zone. This can be easily tracked by using any of the methods stated below: 

  • Visit the Pinellas County website to know your zone. Your zone can change depending on the weather and level of storm surge. All you have to do is enter your home address into the website and it will provide you with all the necessary details regarding your evacuation route and nearby shelters and their facilities. 
  • The Ready Pinellas App is a great source to keep yourself updated and prepared. This app is available on iOS and Android
  • Call (727) 453-3150 to reach the Pinellas County Interactive Hurricane Evacuation Inquiry Line. 
  • You can also reach the Pinellas County Emergency Management at (727) 464-3800 from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm on weekdays. They should be able to assist you with all hurricane related information. 
  • You can also visit the Evacuation Level FAQ page for more information. 

During hurricanes in a tropical region such as Florida, the greatest threat is a storm surge drowning us. As we saw back in 2005, the people of Louisiana and Mississippi were not ready for the storm surge water during hurricane Katrina. So many properties were destroyed due to the flooding and hundreds drowned. 

So, it is important for us to know why the storm surge happens and how to save ourselves from it. A storm surge is essentially the abnormal rise in sea level that occurs during tropical cyclones or hurricanes. The water does not rise gradually. The wind from the storm pushes the sea water into shore, which causes flooding. 

This water takes everything it can possibly find, back out to sea. Which is why Dunedin is susceptible to this sort of natural disaster due to its coastal topography. Hence, the evacuation of the area needs to be carefully planned out beforehand in case of disaster. 

Thankfully, it is possible for us to combat surge flooding. So, in case of a hurricane in Pinellas County you should follow the protocols listed below: 

  • In case a hurricane is predicted for Pinellas and your zone has been told to evacuate, YOU MUST EVACUATE. Do not undermine the rules implemented by the county authorities. Trust their judgment for your own safety. 
  • Evacuate any area that may be at risk of surge flood. 
  • Keep yourself updated on news regarding the hurricane. Check out the Pinellas County Emergency Management app or website. 
  • Do not plan to camp out on higher ground. There will be numerous shelters and you should plan to find refuge there. 
  • Leave EARLY. Do not wait until the last moment. Leave for higher ground while you still have time and survive the storm. 

Flood Zones vs. Evacuation Zones

A lot of people are unaware of the difference between an evacuation zone and a flood zone. But they are actually different. 

FEMA determines flood zones. The different zones are distinctly designated by FEMA so the homeowners in the flood zones are insured for flood damage. This system also helps determine the level of damage and risk associated with the building in that area. To simplify, flood zones are for insurance purposes.

The National Hurricane Center determines evacuation zones and centers around weather reports. They classify how vulnerable each area is to hurricane damage or storm surge. The evacuation zones are marked using letters A-E. 

To simplify, the evacuation zone keeps updating their information based on immediate weather reports. For example, your zone could be labeled as a due to surging risk today because of the hurricane risk but not be in the flood zone. Whereas your house could be in a flood zone but not be marked as an evacuation zone. Residents should understand the difference and keep themselves updated. 

Know Your Zone 

Visit the Pinellas County website to know your zone.

A (Red) – Possible surge is 4 to 8 feet.

B (Orange) – Possible surge is 8 to 14 feet.

C (Yellow) – Possible surge is 14 to 19 feet.

D (Green) – Possible surge is 19 to 26 feet.

E (Purple) – Possible surge is 26 to 29 feet.

Can I Stay? 

During a crisis there are many things to consider. A lot of people question whether they want to stay in Dunedin or flee to the shelters, possibly out of town. But it is possible for Dunedin residents to escape to higher ground as the county is surrounded by numerous hills. 

But it is better to go to a shelter at such times. Firstly, because it is uncertain how long you might have to stay away from the affected area i.e. your home. Secondly, you can always go to shelters that are inside your county. And there are several options to choose from and you might not have to drive through a long traffic jam.  

You can also plan to find shelter at a friend or relative’s house in an unaffected region. You can also contact hotels or motels in non-evacuation zones that are closest to you. 

Types of Evacuation Order

In case of a hurricane threat, evacuation notices are issued. Evacuation notices are given to keep people away from the storm surge of a hurricane, which is considered the deadliest aspect of this natural disaster. The evacuation orders are of two types:

Recommended Evacuation: Thisindicates that the approaching hurricane or storm surge may not be too dangerous. In case of a recommended evacuation, emergency protocols require that people residing in mobile homes, trailers, and areas that are historically prone to flooding should evacuate to higher ground. Since these homes can be affected by strong winds, it is best to evacuate. 

Mandatory Evacuations: Mandatory Evacuationsare only ordered in case of a serious threat of storm surge and massive flooding. Refusal to follow mandatory evacuation protocol can result in death. These warnings are issued for all residents in an area, including mobile homes. It is vital to know your zone and level of threat so you can properly plan your escape route and find safety. 

It is also important to note that it is illegal to disobey a mandatory evacuation order during a natural disaster. It is considered a second-degree misdemeanor to stay in your home during a mandatory evacuation under Florida Statute 252.50.

Which means, the Florida law enforcement has every right to detain anyone holding up the evacuation protocols or refusing to cooperate. So, you should be prepared to leave with your family and kin.

Conclusion

I hope now you know how to determine your Dunedin, FL hurricane evacuation zone. When you are living in an area as tropical and sunny as Pinellas County and Dunedin, you need to be aware of the potential dangers of the sea. It is better to be safe than sorry. So, you should be ready with all your important information which can help you in case of a hurricane. 

Hopefully, this compilation of all the relevant sources and emergency protocols will help you determine your evacuation zone in Dunedin.