Q: What is the impact going to be here/what can we expect?
A: According to the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, the most significant impacts associated with Irma are expected to remain east of our area through early next week. Wind will be the main impact across our area during Irma. Irma's wind field will expand when it moves up the Florida peninsula. Northeasterly to northerly winds of 25-30 mph with frequent higher gusts are expected THIS afternoon through Monday. NO tornado, flash flood or surge conditions are expected.
However, tracks and forecasts can change. Be sure you take time every day to monitor the local media. Escambia County also has several tools available for our residents. Learn more here. Monitor local media and legitimate online and social media sources like Escambia County Emergency Management, US National Weather Service Mobile, NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center and Florida SERT.
Q: Have evacuations been called?
A: There ARE NO evacuations ordered for Escambia County residents, no matter the location NO tornado, flash flood or surge conditions are expected.
Q: How will I know if evacuations are ordered?
A: There are lots of tools available. It can be as simply as monitoring local media outlets. Escambia offers several tools that will come directly to you via email, text or phone call. Visit http://bit.ly/2sX1CRw to learn more. You can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.
The state’s Florida Emergency Information Line has been activated and is available 24/7 for families and visitors at 1-800-342-3557. Additionally, Floridians can text FLPREPARES to 888777 in order to receive text alerts from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Q: Are there any shelters open?
A: The Pensacola Bay Center Shelter is open as a host shelter for south Florida evacuees, not Escambia County residents as no local evacuations have been called for Hurricane Irma. The Escambia County Equestrian Center is also open as a host shelter for evacuees’ horses. Stalls and RV sites are available at a first come, first served basis. The stall fees have been waived. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2wK9OWI.
You can also visit floridadisaster.org/shelters/summary.aspx to find information on shelters throughout the state. This site is being updated as shelters open throughout the day.
Q: Are the shelters full?
A: No! As of Saturday evening, both the Bay Center and Equestrian Center have space available.
Q: Are the bridges going to close?
A: We don't anticipate any bridge closures due to wind, BUT we will monitor wind speeds to ensure safety.
In Escambia County, we work with law enforcement to close bridges for safety at sustained (not gusts) wind speeds typically of 39 MPH or greater. It's going to be windy through Monday but speeds are expected to be 25-30 mph winds.
Q: How do I know if I’m in an evacuation zone?
A: Look up your address online at http://bit.ly/2vGzR1R. You can search by address or parcel number and then look for the “Emergency Management Report.” The address function is self-populating, so type slowly and then choose the address from the drop down list.
Q: I have special needs, how do I register for the special needs shelter?
A. We currently do not anticipate needing to open a special needs shelter for local residents in response to Hurricane Irma. But, if you or a family member have special needs, you need to make registering a priority if you have not yet done so for the next possible event. You must pre-register with the Public Safety Department on-line at https://snr.floridadisaster.org. Learn more at http://bit.ly/2xlyy9a.
Q: Why am I not in an evacuation zone (not A, B, C, D or E)?
A: Because your home is not considered to be in a risk area, particularly from storm surge. In this case, you will need to do what makes you and your family feel safe. If you are in a mobile home or have special needs, you should consider sheltering in a different location. It is possible, though unprecedented, that all residents in the county are asked to leave. In this case, you should leave, no matter the zone.
Q: What are the evacuation routes?
A: It's important to know how you will leave if an evacuation is ever called. Please see http://bit.ly/2eJAKzm. Or see our disaster guide for a map http://bit.ly/2wGak6j.
Q: What do I do if an evacuation is called?
A: Currently, we anticipate no need for evacuations. But for future events, if you live in zones A-E and if an evacuation is called for your zone, you should leave your home. If you live in a mobile home or have special needs, you should consider evacuation no matter the zone in which you live. It is important to decide now - know where you will go and how you will get there. Will you go to a friend or relative’s home, a hotel, or as a last resort, a public shelter? It is always easier to go tens of miles, not hundreds.
Q: Where can I get sand and sand bags?
A: Usually you can purchase sand and sand bags at most local hardware or home improvement stores, typically for a pretty low cost. We understand some stores are out or running low, so we suggest calling first. You can also check online. HOWEVER, at this time we are not expected any flooding impacts.
Q: Are offices open on Monday?
A: County offices are open. State offices and the public school system, colleges and universities are closed.
Q: Are the court systems open on Monday?
A: All courts in Escambia County, Okaloosa County, and Santa Rosa County shall remain open Monday, September 11, 2017.
For news and announcements concerning the courts of the First Judicial Circuit, you may visit www.FirstJudicialCircuit.org or follow on Twitter.
Q: How can I help?
Governor Rick Scott has activated the Florida Disaster Fund to support individuals who are impacted by Hurricane Irma. The Florida Disaster Fund helps provide financial support to Florida’s communities in times of disaster. To make a contribution, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org
or text DISASTER to 20222 to make a one-time donation of $10.
Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as new or used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable food at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs.
Florida needs 1,000 volunteer nurses to help at our special needs shelters. Nurses who can volunteer can email BPRCHDPreparedness@FLHealth.gov. Nurses can also email HelpFL@FLhealth.gov.
Volunteer Florida is coordinating with volunteer organizations across the state and has partnered with the American Red Cross to provide shelter operations training to volunteers and AmeriCorps grantees. Floridians who would like to volunteer can register at http://redcross.org/volunteer