Evacuation zones are labeled A to E, with A being the most susceptible to storm surge and wind damage. As a storm approaches, the Lee County Emergency Operations Center, will issue evacuation orders in phases, with the zones most at risk being first, often while the skies are still clear and the sun shining. Don’t let the clear skies fool you.
The areas closest to the Gulf in Lee County are in the A zone, including all the barrier islands: Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island. You might be surprised to know that Evacuation Zone A also includes areas along the Caloosahatchee River upstream to nearly Alva. Zone A also extends all the way to U.S. 41 from College Parkway to Bonita Beach Road, where Zone A reaches all the way to I-75. Keep this in mind as you decide where to go when you evacuate. Do not move from one Zone A area to another.
Why evacuate? Storm surge flooding can easily overwash our island in a storm. Water comes up quickly, but recedes very slowly, often hiding road damage under flood waters. The water and the ground can be contaminated by chemicals and raw sewage. Power will be out for a long time. Tap water may be unsafe. Cell service will be patchy, if available at all. If you choose not to evacuate, you may not be able to leave after the storm due to storm damage.
Emergency response personnel are pulled off the roads when the wind hits 40 mph. That means no ambulance, fire or police will be able to respond to any call for help, if your call even gets through, until after the storm when the winds drop below 40mph and the roads have been checked for safety.
Know your zone and plan to evacuate when directed to, before if possible. Your plans should include more than one destination option when evacuating, with county shelters your very last resort. Hotels fill up early. Talk to friends and family far inland now to see if you can go to their home when you evacuate.