Each year, coastal communities in Maryland experience threats from tropical storms, including heavy rains, strong winds, rip currents, floods and storm surge. High winds can spawn tornadoes. Torrential rains cause floods and landslides.
All of it adds up to threaten not only coastal towns, but communities many miles inland.
Somerset, Dorchester, and other areas have been designated into evacuation zones: A, B or C, and color coded red, blue and yellow. In the event of a severe storm event, residents will be instructed whether to evacuate or take other actions, based on the weather’s impact on each of the three zones.
“Simply put, knowing your zone and knowing when to evacuate can save your family’s and your life,” according to the Maryland Department of Emergency Management.
“When an evacuation is ordered, your zone will determine when you should evacuate. Having tiered evacuation zones decreases the possibility that roads will be overwhelmed with heavy traffic by spacing out the traffic load throughout the evacuation period.”
You can find your evacuation zone at www.KnowYourZoneMD.com. The website allows you to enter your address and view a detailed, color-coded map showing where that address is in relation to each evacuation zone. The map is interactive, allowing you to view a particular address or neighborhood, or zoom out and see a whole region.
Residents without internet access can contact their local emergency management office or call 2-1-1, to figure out which zone you live in.
When a storm or hurricane is approaching, emergency managers will determine which zones are most at risk considering the intensity, path, speed, tides and other meteorological factors. Officials will use local news outlets, social media and other tools to notify residents of impacted zones what they should do to stay safe. Depending on the emergency, people may be encouraged to stay at home, make a short trip to higher ground, or travel to a different region of the state.
But all residents should take extra precautions to be prepared to evacuate immediately upon request from your local and state leadership. People who are considered at ‘high risk’, or people who may have an increased level of vulnerability for a safe evacuation process, should evacuate as soon as possible when evacuations are recommended, and should take all critical supplies with them when they evacuate, including medicine, communications devices and mobility tools.
Individuals considered at risk for COVID-19 infections should make plans for non-congregate sheltering options, and be prepared to maintain contact with their local health department representatives, as necessary, and observe social distancing requirements during evacuations.