Tracking the Tropics
WSVN -- Phil Ferro: "Right now, we are in the cone of concern."
If a storm threatens South Florida, emergency officials must decide whether to order evacuations.
Curt Sommerhoff, Director, Miami-Dade EOC: "Evacuation zones are built around storm surge."
Storm surge is water pushed inland by the winds of the storm, and it can be deadly.
Chuck Lanza, Director, Broward EOC: "They need to get away from the coast, because that water can be anywhere from six to 15 feet."
And that surge can cause extensive damage and block roads for emergency vehicles.
That's why you need to know if you live in an evacuation zone.
Chuck Lanza, Director, Broward EOC: "We have two evacuations zones. The first zone is everything east of the Intercoastal waterway."
In Broward County, Zone A includes all the barrier islands. Evacuations are ordered in these areas for almost every storm.
Chuck Lanza, Director, Broward EOC: "The second evacuation zone is everything east of US 1."
Evacuations in Zone B are typically ordered for storms Category 3 or higher.
Chuck Lanza, Director, Broward EOC: "Over 100,000 people would have to evacuate. It would take several hours to do that, closer to 14 hours."
In Miami-Dade County, nearly half a million people live in evacuation zones.
Curt Sommerhoff, Director, Miami-Dade EOC: "We have three evacuation zones."
Like Broward, Zone A is mainly the barrier islands.
Curt Sommerhoff, Director, Miami-Dade EOC: "From Golden Beach all the way down to Key Biscayne, including the islands of Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, down to Surfside, North Bay Village, Miami Beach, Fisher Island."
People living in the barrier islands should be prepared to evacuate for all storms.
There's also this spot in western Miami-Dade called the 8-and-a-half-square-mile area. It's in Zone A, too.
Curt Sommerhoff, Director, Miami-Dade EOC: "It's a very low-lying area, and with a significant amount of rain, we're going to have flooding out in this area that's going to keep people potentially isolated."
Zone B in the northern part of the county runs along the coast, east of US 1, but it broadens out in South Miami-Dade.
Curt Sommerhoff, Director, Miami-Dade EOC: "It does include part of Homestead. The airbase falls in Zone B. Turkey Point is in Zone B."
The final evacuation Zone is C, and it will only be used for storms that reach Category 3, 4 or 5.
Curt Sommerhoff, Director, Miami-Dade EOC: "The City of Princeton, Naranja. Most, if not all of Florida City falls in Zone C."
Officials in both counties say if you evacuate, you don't have to go far.
Chuck Lanza, Director, Broward EOC: "Our recommendation is to stay with friends and relatives inland in Broward County."
But if you have no place to go, shelters will be open.
Chuck Lanza, Director, Broward EOC: "Anytime we're going to do an evacuation, we open shelters first to make sure people have a place to go."
Shelters are operated by the Red Cross and should be considered a last resort.
Sofia Santana, American Red Cross: "Don't expect hotel accommodations. It's pretty, it's down to the bare minimums. You will be sleeping on a cot with 50 other people, maybe 100 in a school gym."
So remember to bring basic supplies.
Sofia Santana, American Red Cross: "Bring any items that will keep your kids calm and comfortable. Bring enough toiletries. It's also recommended that you bring enough water as well."
Mike Marza: "If you have kids, bring toys, books and games to keep them busy. It's also a good idea to have a battery-operated radio or TV so you can track the storm."
But don't bring alcohol or guns. They are not allowed.
If you have special medical needs or pets, there are shelters for you, but you will need to pre-register.
And remember, now is the time to figure out where you will ride out a storm.
"Get a kit, make a plan and be informed."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Miami-Dade Emergency Operations
311 or 305-468-5900
Broward Emergency Operations
311 or 954-831-4000
American Red Cross