July 16, 2019

For Emergencies, Know Your Zone

Know Your Zone

Everyone who lives, works, or vacations in any of the beautiful areas of St. Mary’s County is subject to tidal flooding or storm surges from a hurricane, and the county’s Department of Emergency Services advises all to Know Your Zone.

In 2018, the St. Mary’s County hurricane evacuation plan transitioned to a zone-based program, allowing local emergency managers to more easily send messages of evacuation requests to residents and visitors.

The evacuation zones were a result of the Maryland Hurricane Evacuation Study, which was finished last year. The study found three large areas in Maryland that are subject to tidal flooding. Know Your Zone is designed to bring awareness of the zones to the forefront of Marylanders’ summer plans, making evacuation notices easier to disseminate.

Every jurisdiction on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is affected by the zones, as well as the western coast of the Chesapeake Bay and tidal areas of the Potomac River south of Washington, DC. That covers 16 Maryland counties along with Annapolis, Baltimore City, and Ocean City. Even so, residents from every part of Maryland should also know the zones if they travel to affected areas.

The evacuation zones are designated by the letters A, B, and C. Zone A regions are the most likely to be impacted by flooding in the event of a hurricane or major storm.

In the future, the program will focus on refining and improving evacuation routes away from the affected areas.

“Studies show that timely messaging for evacuations saves lives,” said Maryland Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Russ Strickland in a news release issued by St. Mary’s County government. “This system will make it easier and safer for local emergency managers to manage a potential evacuation, but only if you Know Your Zone before a storm hits.”

St. Mary’s County can suffer the impacts of a storm or a named hurricane hundreds of miles away. Hurricanes have been known to produce 150-plus miles per hour winds, tornadoes, and severe flooding from both tidal surges and torrential rain.

Every resident, worker, or visitor to St. Mary’s County should be proactive and ready this hurricane season. “Please take a minute to Know Your Zone,” said Stephen Walker, director of emergency service. “We have worked hand in hand with state and federal partners using the best tools, which were not available three years ago in order to determine these zones and streamline a potential evacuation.”

Visit the interactive Know Your Zone webpage to learn more about the project. Simply type in an address and locate property zones.

Residents can also take the following actions to stay safe:

  • Create an emergency supply kit and establish a family emergency and communications plan.
  • Tune in to trusted sources like the National Weather Service and local broadcasters for official weather information.
  • Follow the instructions and advice from emergency officials, especially instructions related to evacuation.
  • During severe weather, stay inside and away from windows, close all interior doors, and brace external doors. Those who live near the shore or coast should expect the storm tide will affect homes and property.
  • Often, flooding is the biggest threat. Monitor NWS flood warnings for the area and be ready to seek higher ground.
  • Fill a bathtub or other large containers with water for sanitary purposes like cleaning and flushing toilets.
  • Charge your electronic devices before bad weather hits and consider having a charger in your car.

Additional preparedness information can be found on the Department of Emergency Services website.

Residents can also download the free Maryland Prepares mobile app.

 

To learn more about Lexington Park, visit the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation’s Leader member page.

St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation

46940 South Shangri-La Drive, Suite 7

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-863-7700

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