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Storm Surge Evacuation Zones

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  • Palm trees blowing in hurricane winds
Page Updated: 
May 05, 2020 at 09:18 AM

Know Your Evacuation Zone

Martin County Emergency Management will issue storm surge evacuation orders, when necessary, through the media, by going door-to-door, or via telephone/text outcalls using the AlertMartin Emergency Alert System. Evacuate when directed and move to a shelter outside of the storm surge evacuation zone. 

Evacuation zones are NOT the same as flood zones, though they are often mistaken for each other. Evacuation zones and flood zones are very different and measure conditions that may not occur at the same time.

Flood zones vs. evacuation zones – what's the difference?

Evacuation Zones:

These zones are determined by the National Hurricane Center and indicate areas that will be affected by storm surge, which officials may order evacuated during a hurricane. Evacuation zones in Martin County are identified as AB, CD and E, and some areas of the county are not located in any evacuation zone.

When to check your evacuation zone:

  • Before hurricane season to make sure you know your zone and your family is prepared
  • During a hurricane or major storm, to know if you should evacuate

Flood Zones:

These zones are determined by FEMA to indicate a property’s risk for flooding and have nothing to do with hurricanes or other emergencies. They are used to determine flood insurance premium rates and some building code requirements. Every property is located in a flood zone (unless it has been unstudied or undetermined).

When to check your flood zone:

  • When you are not sure if you need flood insurance 
  • When you refinance or get a mortgage
  • When you need building permits for work on your property
  • When you live in a low-lying area or near a stream, river, pond, or body of water

What are the evacuation zones in Martin County?

Evacuation zone AB is for forecasted storm surge of up to 6 feet. Evacuation zone CD is for forecasted storm surge of up to 13 feet. Evacuation zone E is for forecasted storm surge of up to 16 feet.

Evacuation zones in Martin County are identified as:

  • AB (red)
  • CD (yellow)
  • E (blue)

Zone AB includes the barrier islands and most low-lying areas along the coast. These areas are likely to be inundated by storm surge of up to 6 feet. The zones progress inland as you get further from the coast and higher in elevation. Zone CD is likely to be inundated by storm surge of up to 13 feet, and Zone E is likely to be inundated by storm surge of up to 16 feet.

Low-Lying Areas

It is important to understand that if your home or property is not located within an evacuation zone, but is located in a low-lying or flood-prone inland area, you may also experience flooding impacts that are often associated with a tropical storm or hurricane.

In other words, a home may be located outside of an evacuation zone, yet still be susceptible to flooding because of a nearby stream or pond. 

Storm surge explained – watch vs. warning

What is Storm Surge?

Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. Storm surge is not a giant wall of water, but rather a methodical, rapid rise of water that will occur along the ocean and rivers.

Storm Surge Watch:

A storm surge watch means there is the possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, a subtropical cyclone or a post-tropical cyclone.

The watch may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to limit the time available to take protective actions (e.g. evacuations). The watch may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation, but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.

Storm Surge Warning:

A storm surge warning means there is the danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, a subtropical cyclone, or a post-tropical cyclone.

The warning may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to limit the time available to take protective actions (e.g. evacuations). The warning may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation, but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.

Who should evacuate?

All evacuation orders will include:

ALL residents located in the issued evacuation zone.
ALL residents in mobile or manufactured homes, RVs or travel trailers (regardless of location).
ALL residents located beside tidal bodies of water and in low-lying areas.
ALL residents who do not feel safe in their homes.

When evacuating, remember:

  • Leave when emergency officials issue a mandatory evacuation order for your area.
  • Evacuate to a family or friend’s home or hotel outside the evacuation area.
  • Emergency shelters provide for basic needs only.
  • Tell someone outside the storm area where you are going.
  • Take your disaster supply kit and important papers with you.

If your address is not located in a designated storm surge evacuation zone, the good news is you are not expected to evacuate.​ However, that does not mean you will never have to heed instructions from your local emergency officials for major emergencies.

You should still know how to protect your family from potential risks and listen closely to emergency communications during any severe weather event or emergency. Conditions can change quickly and emergency officials will provide you the best instructions to stay safe.

Why evacuate?

Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property during a significant weather event, and it doesn’t always occur at the same time or location as the storm’s hazardous winds.

Evacuation orders will be issued if it appears that vulnerable areas will be unsafe due to storm surge. The National Hurricane Center may issue a storm surge watch or warning to communicate potentially impacted areas.

How to Find Your Zone

In the video below, Martin County Emergency Management explains how to find your property and determine if you are located in a storm surge evacuation zone, using the Storm Surge Evacuation Zones map.

Contact Emergency Management

For further questions regarding storm surge evacuation zones in Martin County, please call Martin County Emergency Management at (772) 287-1652

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