RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes. As the next big storm moves closer to the coast, officials want everyone to prepare now.
This year, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety rolled out a new tool called “Know Your Zone” to make it easier for coastal communities to understand and follow evacuation orders.
“We’re coming hot off the heels of several storms of record on North Carolina. We realize it can be challenging to understand and track evacuation orders,” said North Carolina Emergency Management meteorologist Katie Webster.
The “Know Your Zone” lookup tool is a new color-coded map to determine the evacuation zone where people live, work, or are visiting based on their address.
“It’s a tiered evacuation system that highlights the area that are most at risk for storm surge and inland flooding across our coastal areas,” Webster said.
There are five zones. Some communities have only one, others have five. New Hanover County is broken into three zones.
Local officials will determine which areas should be evacuated. Areas in Zone A will typically be evacuated first, according to Webster.
“If an evacuation order is issued for your area, please heed those warnings and follow those instructions,” said Webster.
A new study by AAA found 37 percent of North Carolinians say they are less likely to evacuate for a storm this year due to fears of contracting COVID-19.
Webster suggests if people are not comfortable heading to a shelter, they should stay with a family member, friend or go to a hotel.
“Because Raleigh is up the I-40 corridor evacuation route, I think people feel safe especially coming from the coast to be able to come to Raleigh and ride it out,” said Pete Byers, general manager at the Residence Inn by Marriot Raleigh Downtown.
Byers said in during Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew, not only did evacuees stay at the hotel, but also utility crews staged in the area in the aftermath.
So far they haven’t seen an increase in demand, but Byers says they are prepared.
“There’s quite a different change in how we approach cleaning the hotel, sanitizing, disinfecting everyday,” he said. “We would be very safe for everyone.”
To view the “Know Your Zone” tool, click here.