Tropical Storm Ian could potentially impact much the Florida Gulf Coast as a major hurricane this week.
A state of emergency has been declared for the state of Florida and locally in Manatee County and Bradenton.
Officials are urging residents to make emergency plans now. That includes knowing your evacuation level and planning where you will go.
Manatee County Emergency Management offers an interactive map that allows residents to check on evacuation levels of a home or business, as well as potential evacuation routes.
Visit mymanatee.org/departments/public_safety/emergency_management/evacuation_levels to check your evacuation level, or call Emergency Management at 941-749-3500 for help.
Residents can also sign up for Manatee County emergency notifications by creating a CodeRED account online.
Sarasota County, which has slightly different evacuation levels, also offers an interactive online map at ags3.scgov.net/knowyourlevel.
Which evacuation level are you in?
Levels are classified using letters A through E — Level A being the most vulnerable to storm surge and first ordered to evacuate and Level E being the least vulnerable and last ordered to evacuate.
Evacuation orders are issued depending on expected storm surge:
Level A - 11 feet
Level B - 14 feet
Level C - 18 feet
Level D - 27 feet
Level E - 33 feet.
Level A areas along the waters of the Gulf, bays, Manatee River, Braden River to near Lake Manatee, which includes all of Anna Maria Island, Cortez, Perico, Port Manatee and more.
Some areas of the county are in non-evacuation zones, so unless officials say otherwise it will be unnecessary to evacuate.
Residents and visitors in mobile homes, manufactured homes, RVs and travel trailers will be ordered to evacuate when a hurricane evacuation Level A is issued — regardless of where the dwelling is located.
Storm surge forecast
“Hurricane evacuation levels are based on hypothetical storm scenarios, factoring in atmospheric pressure, size, speed, and track to determine the potential storm surge for the location,” Manatee County Emergency Management says.
The levels are based on the potential height of salt water storm surge and do not factor in freshwater and rainfall flooding.
The color-coded map of Manatee County allows users to input a specific address and find out its evacuation level.
Other handy features include sandbag pickup locations, shelter locations and road closures.
No evacuations had been ordered as of Sunday afternoon.
With several months to go until the end of the Atlantic hurricane season on Nov. 30, it’s always a good idea to make sure you know your evacuation level and check potential escape routes.
What happens if I don’t evacuate?
Residents who choose not to evacuate when an order is given could face potential flooding and other hazardous and life-threatening conditions.
Additionally, they could be left stranded in the event of an emergency.
“If an evacuation is called for, and you do not evacuate, you will be without fire rescue, law enforcement or emergency medical support until winds and waters subside,” Sarasota County Emergency Management says.
Officials recommend arranging to stay with a friend or loved one outside of the evacuation area, booking a lodging in a non-evacuation area or getting out of town in advance of the storm.
Going to a local evacuation center should always be a last resort.