If you want to evacuate, where should you go?
Emergency managers urge residents if possible to hunker down in their own county – at least five to 10 miles inland. If you leave, you risk getting stuck in traffic, running out of gas or being chased by the storm with no place to go, particularly if shelters and hotels are filled up.
The real problem is a large storm could spark a mass exodus and choke highways. That happened in 2005, when more than 3 million residents of Texas and Louisiana fled Hurricane Rita, leaving many motorists trapped on the road for more than 20 hours.
511 can help you decide
The 511 Traveler Information System provides important phone numbers during emergencies, as well as up-to-date traffic information. There are four convenient ways to receive the 511 information:
CALL 511 toll free for updates in English and Spanish.
VISIT FL511.com, with interactive roadway maps showing traffic congestion, travel times and crashes.
DOWNLOAD the free Florida 511 mobile app available for iPhone and Android devices.
FOLLOW region-specific FL511 feeds on Twitter. For Southeast Florida: @FL511_Southeast; for Southwest Florida, @FL511_Southwest; for Central Florida, @FL511_Central; and for the state, @FL511_State
When you must go
The law says that if authorities order an evacuation, you must leave if you live:
IN A MOBILE HOME. No matter how well you tie it down, it is unsafe in a storm.
IN AN EVACUATION ZONE where flooding is likely; generally east of the Intracoastal Waterway or in the Florida Keys. People who live in such zones run the risk that storm surge will swallow them up.
When you should go
Common sense dictates that you should evacuate if:
YOU LIVE IN A HIGH-RISE; winds are much stronger at higher elevations.
YOU KNOW YOUR BUILDING is unsafe and you can't repair it.
YOU USE LIFE-SUPPORT equipment that requires electricity, such as ventilators.
YOU WANT TO AVOID the rush. The National Hurricane Center issues storm warnings 36 hours in advance, giving plenty of time to avoid possible gridlock.
An evacuation order probably will come too late to reserve seats on a plane, bus or train.
The Florida Department of Transportation has identified five highways and six routes that could be made “one-way” in an emergency. They are:
1. Interstate 10: westbound from Interstate 295 to Interstate 75.
2. Florida 528: westbound from Brevard County.
3. Florida's Turnpike: northbound from Fort Pierce.
4. Interstate 4: eastbound from Tampa.
5. Interstate 75: Alligator Alley, eastbound from Fort Myers.
6. Interstate 75: Alligator Alley, westbound from Fort Lauderdale.