Although a tropical cyclone is the most likely reason for an evacuation of coastal counties in Florida, a release of hazardous materials or an approaching wildfire might also trigger an evacuation. The decision to issue an evacuation order is not taken lightly, nor is the disruption it creates for the entire community; evacuations are ordered to protect the lives, health, and safety of the public.

If an evacuation order is given: Gather your family, pets, and supplies; Secure your home; and Go! Tropical Cyclones may provide a little leeway time, but other hazards can be immediately life-threatening. If you haven’t already, sign up now for the Alert Nassau Citizen Alerts so you and your family will know when you are in danger, regardless of the hazard!

During Hurricane Season (June 1 through November 30) it might still look beautiful outdoors when an evacuation order is issued. The EM Director, Executive Policy Group, and BOCC will time evacuation orders so that everyone has time to get away safely. Remember that Amelia is a barrier island. If a tropical cyclone impact is imminent, residents, visitors, businesses, police, firefighters, and even hospital patients will all have to cross a bridge to move inland before the destructive high winds, dangerous storm surge, and flooding rains arrive. Once sustained winds reach 39 mph, bridges will be closed for safety, so evacuation of the island must already be complete.

What if an Evacuation Order is issued?

Short answer – GO, and Go Early!

High winds, fires, and floods are known hazards in Florida – they destroy structures and claim lives every year. Residents and visitors in designated Evacuation on the urban-wildland interface, or living in mobile/manufactured homes, need to plan ahead! You and your family should know where you will go and what you will take with you.

Although sudden emergencies (like a tornado, flash flood, brushfire, hazardous materials release, or bomb threat) may not provide much notice, tropical storms usually allow NCEM professionals to plan shelter openings and issue evacuation orders in time for everyone (e.g., residents, hospital patients, tourists, pets) to move to a safe place before the onset of hazardous conditions.

Whether you plan to leave Nassau County completely or move inland to shelter when a tropical storm threatens the area, expect to leave a day (or two) before the storm hits and stay away until officials announce it is OK to return! It may take 2 to 3 days after a storm has passed for responders to make the area safe for your return.

Secure your home and valuables knowing that the power is likely to be off and flooding may occur while you are away; take everything you will need when you evacuate (e.g., identification, cash, clothes, hygiene items, snacks, pet supplies, etc.)

Remember: There is no place in a shelter to store valuables while you sleep, other than in your pockets – plan ahead!

Where will you go?

Although NCEM has identified wind-rated public facilities that can be opened for emergency shelter, a public shelter should be your last choice of refuge – they are often crowded, noisy, and uncomfortable, with no privacy and scarce resources. If you are able to go to a friend or relative’s sturdy home in a safe area, that is probably your best choice.

Depending on weather conditions and staffing availability, not all public shelter facilities may be opened. Sign up for Citizen Alerts to ensure you receive timely notices for evacuations and shelter openings. Residents can verify local shelter openings with Emergency Management by calling the EOC at 904-548-0900 or monitoring our Facebook page, Twitter, and Nextdoor postings.