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Know your county's evacuation routes before the storm
If you decide to evacuate ahead of a hurricane, expect to run into traffic. It's time now to decide which way to go.
When a hurricane hits, the Florida Department of Transportation will focus on getting people out quickly and safely. Their crews will be out clearing any debris, and in some cases, they'll reverse traffic on roads and bridges to move more people, faster.
Department of Transportation spokesperson Ian Satter urges everyone to consider evacuation routes now. When a storm is coming, he said, listen to forecasters on air and online.
"If they're telling you to leave," Satter said, "It's time to go. Get what you need. Get in your car."
Time is of the essence. That's why you want to have your evacuation route already planned because when a hurricane hits, said Satter, "It's too late at that point so we want to make sure that you're on the road way ahead of time and can get out."
That's a lesson some people learned the hard way in 2004.
"When Hurricane Ivan came through, we had an issue on I-10 where the bridge was actually washed away. There were people that were stuck on the roadway. They couldn't cross. If people hadn't evacuated at that time, they were stuck. They couldn't get east or west at that time."
Be aware of the storm's track when deciding which way to go. That's why it's important to know several routes out of the area.
For Escambia County, Satter said, "You want to look at I-110, that's your main thoroughfare, U.S. 98 across the bridge. Up through the Pensacola area. Get onto I-10, get north as far as you can."
In Santa Rosa County, he said, "You have State Road 87 which is a major north-south corridor that you want to use."
Okaloosa County has a couple of options. "You have 123 and State Road 85," Satter said. "Those are your key evacuation routes to be able to get out of those southern coastal regions."
If it's already raining when you leave, beware of flooded roads. Remember, never drive through water. Turn around. Don't drown.