While most of the Osprey Observer readership is excluded from the 75,000 residents who will be in an evacuation zone for the first time because of the updated evacuation zone maps, it is always important to know your zone.

With hurricane season in full swing as of June 1, area residents should be stocked up on supplies, including prescriptions, water, canned goods and more. Plus, hopefully everyone took advantage of the 2022 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday to purchase items like flashlights, batteries, generators, bungee cords and other items.

While checking off their lists, homeowners and tenants need to make sure to look at the new 2022 Evacuation Zone Map and see whether their dwelling lies within an evacuation zone. Hillsborough residents can learn which evacuation zone their home is in at hcflgov.net/heat.

Using 2020 U.S. census data and the latest Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model from the National Hurricane Center, Hillsborough County has updated its evacuation zones for the 2022 hurricane season, placing 75,000 residents in an evacuation zone for the first time.

The biggest map change is in East Tampa. The area is roughly bordered by the Hillsborough River to the north, Harney Road to the east, I-4 to the south and I-275 to the west. Previously not classified as an evacuation zone, this area has been moved into Zone E, which is the final evacuation zone.

There are several items on the county’s website (www.hillsboroughcounty.org) that will help area residents prepare for a hurricane. The Hurricane Evacuation Assessment Tool (HEAT) assists residents in determining if they are located in one of the five evacuation zones. Residents can sign up for real-time information on when evacuation zones are called at hcflgov.net/hcflalert, the county’s official mass notification system.

Evacuation zones are classified from A to E, with A appearing in red on the map representing the first zone to be evacuated. The colors follow the rainbow (ROYGB), and blue is for those living in higher areas, Evacuation Zone E, the last to evacuate.

All residents living in mobile homes are included in Evacuation Zone A regardless of the location of their home. Storm evacuations get residents out of the storm surge path, but mobile homes are not designed to withstand the wind from storms. Therefore, those residents are asked to evacuate with Zone A.  

It is important to note that evacuation zones and flood zones are two different things. Flood zones are based on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) provided by FEMA and are used as a tool to measure a property’s flood risk. An updated flood zone map came out in 2021.

Go to hcflgov.net/staysafe for more information on how to prepare for storm season.

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