Emergency Evacuations

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.

Florida residents and visitors in designated Evacuation Zones, 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.
Note: When sustained winds exceed 30 mph bridges become unsafe - the Florida Department of Transportation will close their bridges if winds reach 40 mph.

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! 

Evacuation Timeline Graphic

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 548-0900
or monitoring our Facebook pageTwitter, and Nextdoor postings.

If you do not have transportation out of the evacuation zone you must register in advance for transportation to a public shelter. Emergency bus routes will be scheduled based on the needs of our residents.

If you plan to go to a public shelter and have special medical needs that include equipment that requires electricity (e.g., an oxygen concentrator) or require daily home health care, you must register in advance to ensure staff will be able to assist with your needs in a Special Medical Needs Shelter.

Note: While official service animals are welcome in all public shelters, pets and "comfort/support animals" are only allowed in designated "pet-friendly" shelters - please remember to take vaccination records and all supplies with you for both pets and service animals!

If you go to a public emergency shelter, be prepared!
 (think of it as a lifeboat; it is not a cruise ship)

Once you check in, you will be housed (i.e. given some space on the floor) in a school gymnasium or similar high wind/storm-rated facility until the hazardous conditions have passed and officials have confirmed it is safe to either return to your home or transition to a host shelter.

Although some food and water will be available in the public emergency shelter, it might take a while to get it; eat a good meal before you go and take your personal "go-kit" packed with sufficient snacks, medications, and other supplies to last 4 to 5 days.

You will need:  

  • your photo ID and other important documents, 
  • sleeping gear (e.g., pillow, blankets, air mattress, modest sleepwear, ear-plugs, eye-mask), 
  • personal hygiene supplies (toothbrush, baby wipes for washing), 
  • medications
  • snacks, special diet or comfort foods,
  • comfortable clothing
  • entertainment items (books, cellphone and backup power source, playing cards, child's favorite toy), 
  • mobility aids (cane, wheelchair), and 
  • your special medical equipment.

If you have pets with you, each must have their own secure cage/crate, proof of rabies vaccination, food, bowls, bedding, collar, and leash.  For the health and safety of other shelter residents and animals, pets will be kept crated in a separate room in the building; you will be responsible for your pet's care and feeding. Additional Pet-Friendly Shelter Information