Hurricane evacuation zones 

Pinellas County’s Emergency Management department updated evacuation zones for the 2022 hurricane season based on the latest storm surge data models from the National Hurricane Center and more accurate elevation data from the County. These data help determine where storm surge poses the greatest threat to life.

The county is encouraging residents to check their evacuation zones by looking up their addresses at storm.pinellascounty.org

Residents can also check their evacuation zones by:

• Finding it on their next Pinellas County Utilities bill (Note: Bills received prior to May 2022 may not state the updated zone.)

• Calling 727-453-3150 (properties with landlines only)

About 93,000 Pinellas residents are affected by a zone change. More than 34,000 addresses moved from a lower-risk zone to a higher-risk zone (e.g., Zone B to Zone A), while about 13,600 addresses moved from a higher-risk zone to a lower-risk zone (e.g., Zone A to Zone B).

Evacuation zones are different from flood zones and residents who live in a mobile home, manufactured home or recreational vehicle must evacuate if an evacuation of any zone is ordered.

“Knowing your evacuation zone is one of the most important steps in preparing for hurricane season, and it could save your life,” said Pinellas County Emergency Management Director Cathie Perkins. “Once you know your risk, you can make a plan for what you and your family will do if a hurricane comes our way.”

Pinellas County’s free 2022 All Hazards Preparedness Guide offers information on how to prepare for hurricane season. The guides are available for pick up at libraries, Pinellas County offices and municipal buildings. It can also be found online at storm.pinellascounty.org.

Individuals and organizations who would like more than five copies of the All Hazards Preparedness Guide can pick them up at the following locations:

• Lealman Exchange, 5175 45th St. N, St. Petersburg. Open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• The Centre, 1500 16th St. Palm Harbor. Open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Help for hurricane season

With the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season set to begin on Wednesday, June 1, West Central Florida county health departments serving Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties are encouraging everyone to prepare for severe weather emergencies now, especially if you have a medical condition and require special assistance to evacuate or shelter. 

If you have a special medical need, it is vital that you register with your local emergency management office for special needs evacuation assistance. You can find that information at www.floridadisaster.org/snr/. All emergency management offices maintain a list of people within the community who have special medical needs so they can be assisted quickly before the arrival of a hurricane. For additional information about how to plan if you need special medical assistance, please visit www.floridadisaster.org/disability

Know your prescriptions

One of the most important things to include in your survival kit is your prescription medications. If an emergency is declared and you are running low on your medications, the Emergency Prescription Refill Bill (Florida Statutes 252.358 and 462.9275) requires all insurers and managed-care organizations to suspend refill too soon restrictions when a patient seeks a refill in a county:

Currently under a hurricane warning issued by the National Weather Service; or declared to be under a state of emergency in an executive order by the governor; or has activated its Emergency Operations Center and its emergency management plan.

This law also allows patients outside of those areas to get an emergency 72-hour refill if the pharmacist is unable to readily obtain refill authorization from the doctor. Please talk with your doctor and pharmacist now about how the law can affect your prescriptions.

In addition to having a supply of your medications on hand, keep a list of each one you take, complete with the name of the prescribing doctor, the name of the drug, dosage instructions and the name of the pharmacy where it was filled.

Alert others

If you have a medical condition such as epilepsy, a heart condition, severe allergies, etc., wear a medical alert bracelet or carry information about your condition. Provide friends and relatives information about your condition and provide them instructions about how to handle any medical emergencies which may arise. 

For more information about how to prepare for hurricane season, call the Pinellas County Health Department at 727-824-6900. For more information about the Florida Department of Health, please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

Regional Planning Council award

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has received the 2022 Governor’s Hurricane Conference Public/Private Award in Innovation for its “Project Phoenix 2.0: The Recovery” initiative. 

The Regional Planning Council was recognized for its dedication to aiding the community in hurricane preparedness, recovery and research in Florida.

Project Phoenix 2.0 was selected for its illustrations of the impacts of a Category 5 hurricane on the Tampa Bay region. The first Project Phoenix was developed in 2009, and the models were updated with Project Phoenix 2.0 in 2020 to reflect the region’s growth.

With Project Phoenix 2.0, the Regional Planning Council focused on small business preparation and recovery because as many as 40% of area small businesses would permanently close in the wake of a Category 5 hurricane with a direct hit on the Tampa Bay region. Project Phoenix 2.0 was designed to help these businesses get adequately prepared for such a storm.

Through Project Phoenix 2.0, business owners can learn important information on how to create continuity plans, evaluate insurance needs, develop human resource plans and protect the business’ property and facilities. These steps are critical in helping them maintain or quickly reestablish business operations should a catastrophic storm hit the Tampa Bay region. 

“These steps are critical in helping small business owners maintain or quickly reestablish business operations should a catastrophic storm hit the Tampa Bay region,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

Project Phoenix 2.0 includes a series of videos (tbrpc.org/phoenix/) that offers a chilling look at the catastrophic impacts a Category 5 storm would have on the region. The first video simulates “Hurricane Phoenix” forming in the Gulf of Mexico, small businesses throughout the Tampa Bay region getting prepared, the moment of impact, and the aftermath of the storm. Other videos feature stories from business owners who experienced the devastation of 2018’s Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida.

This approach demonstrates how one region in Florida can support and learn from another, so if a “Hurricane Phoenix” does come, the Tampa Bay region can be ready.

The Regional Planning Council focused its education and outreach on small business owners to help them develop a plan to recover and continue operations after a hurricane. The Regional Planning Council gave more than 50 presentations to local chambers of commerce, business groups and local governments about Project Phoenix 2.0.

The Governor’s Hurricane Conference Award in Innovation is the highest honor presented at Florida’s largest hurricane preparedness and recovery conference. The conference was held in West Palm Beach, Florida from May 8-12.

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council brings together governments to coordinate planning for the community’s future and provide an opportunity for sharing solutions among the local government jurisdictions in the Tampa Bay region. The TBRPC works with six counties and 21 municipalities as they make long-range plans related to the future of the Tampa Bay region. Learn more at tbrpc.org.