In September 1999, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina experienced the largest evacuation effort in American history in the face of Hurricane Floyd. An estimated 3 million people took to the highways to flee Floyd’s wrath, jamming interstates in search of safety and shelter.
As a coastal state, Georgia is particularly at risk for hurricanes. Storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico have the potential to affect our state. Every resident should plan what to do in the event of an evacuation.
Prepare for Hurricanes
- Get a kit of emergency supplies and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate.
- Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a hurricane. A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area. Be prepared to evacuate. A hurricane warning means a hurricane is expected in your area. If local authorities advise you to evacuate, leave immediately.
- Prepare to secure your property.
- Cover all of your home’s windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed.
- If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to evacuate.
Plan to Evacuate
- Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
- Information on Georgia evacuation routes may be found at Georgia911.org. Download the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Hurricane Season Safety Information brochure and print a copy for your evacuation Ready kit. Use it as a reference for traffic proceedures and information in the event of an evacuation.
- Identify several places you could go in an emergency: a friend’s home in another town or a motel. For more information about public shelters in your community, contact your local emergency management agency. A list of open shelters can be found on GEMA’s Web site.
- Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
- If you are not able to evacuate, stay indoors away from all windows. Take shelter in an interior room with no windows if possible. Be aware that there may be a sudden lull in the storm as the eye of the hurricane moves over. Stay in your shelter until local authorities say it is safe.
- Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
- Stay out of flood waters, if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, should you find yourself trapped in your vehicle in rising water get out immediately and seek higher ground.
- Be alert for tornadoes and flooding. If you see a funnel cloud or if local authorities issue a tornado warning take shelter underground or in an interior room away from windows. If waters are rising quickly or local authorities issue a flood or flash flood warning, seek higher ground.
- Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
- Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after the hurricane and after flood waters recede, roads may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.