HAMPTON, Va. — City leaders across Hampton Roads are keeping an eye on Hurricane Ian’s forecasted path. As with most storms, the main concerns are high winds, heavy rains, and flooding.
Hampton City spokesperson Robin McCormick said city leaders are not expecting a direct hit from Ian, but it’s still important that people know their evacuation zones as hurricane season heats up.
She said officials are tracking Ian’s path and so should you.
“Even though we all like to wait until the last minute, the sooner you can take care of everything you need to secure at your home, the better," McCormick said. "And we certainly want people to know what to do if there is flooding. This doesn’t look like we’re going to get a direct hit but there’s zones that have been established.”
The evacuation is a tiered system from letters A to D.
Jim Redick, who is Norfolk’s director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, said thanks to newer technology, engineers have better defined the evacuation zones. Right now, evacuating can be as easy as heading to a friend’s home, nearby.
“For so long the evacuation zone has always been to go out toward Richmond and that’s not the case," Redick said. "With newer maps, better technology, evacuation zones have been redefined so they’re A, B, C, and D, so know what zone you’re in. When we see that forecast that can be threatening to evacuation Zone A, just know where B and C is and it could really be just a few blocks away.”
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Both Redick and McCormick say although they’re still waiting to see what will happen with Ian, it’s important people in the community know what to do now that we’re in hurricane season.
“You flee the water and you shelter from the winds, so if you’re likely to flood you need to get out. But you don’t need to get on the interstate," McCormick said. "You can stay with a friend on higher ground.”
Officials in both cities say they know things can change when it comes to hurricanes, so they’re preparing for whatever Ian may bring.
“Right now we’re watching and waiting,” McCormick said. “It might just be a bad storm. That’s certainly all that we’re hoping is that we just get a band that passes through and moves on out. Obviously, if the winds stay high or if it somehow goes back to sea and comes back in, we could have seriously high winds, flooding.”
Flooding is a big problem for Hampton Roads, any time a storm is on the way. Both Norfolk and Hampton have areas that are prone to ponding, especially at high tide.
“People also need to be aware of when the rain is coming to pass through," McCormick said. "Because obviously, it’s much worse if we get two to three inches of rain during high tide than if we get it at low tide. So people need to watch those tide forecasts and understand and be prepared for what’s happening.”
Redick said a lot could change over the coming week, so it’s important community members stay alert and follow the forecast.
“I’m hoping it stays over land and weakens," Redick said. “Fortunately or not, we do see these things all the time so we’re pretty familiar with what needs to be done. We try to communicate the expectations to the community so folks may not be as familiar [as] some of us who have been around for a while.”
He added that "a lot could happen between now and later this week" so his team is watching Ian closely.