According to Weather.gov the first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone or if you’re in a home that would be unsafe during a hurricane.

Who should be prepared to evacuate in Indian River County?

     Residents of the barrier island.

     Those living in areas known to flood.

     Residents of mobile manufactured homes.

     Those living in sub-standard housing.

     Those living East of U.S. #1.

If you are, figure out where you’d go and how you’d get there if told to evacuate. You do not need to travel hundreds of miles. Identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative who doesn’t live in a zone or unsafe home, and work it out with them to use their home as your evacuation destination.

In 2015, our first full year in Florida, we encountered Matthew a category 5 hurricane and was terrified. The locals said, oh, don’t worry, it’ll pass. We didn’t think we would have to figure it out so soon. We really didn’t know anyone yet, let alone ask if we could stay with them. Besides, all of the east coast was in his path. After posting on social media that I couldn’t find anywhere for us to evacuate to, a Facebook friend of several years (a kind soul and one I’d never met before), offered up her condo in Clearwater. Because of Matthew, she was stuck up the northern coast. We already moved all outside stuff inside and shuttered up the house, so we packed and took off. Our home was fine when we returned, however, we learned a valuable lesson. Preparation is key.

Be sure to account for your pets, as most local shelters do not permit them. In Vero Beach, the **PET-FRIENDLY SHELTER** is Liberty Magnet School 6850 81st Street Vero Beach, Florida 32967 Pre-registration required: Call 772-388-3331, Ext. 10 for information. Don’t wait too late as they will fill up.

When we left during Matthew, we made dozens of calls to hotels and most wouldn’t take pets at all or just one. I asked them, how I was to decide which to pick? Be sure to include your pets in your evacuation plan.

Put the plan in writing for you and those you care about. When the phones and electricity go out, your family will be left in the dark per se. Let a family member out of the area be a contact person should you and your family lose each other. Know when to leave and where you are going.

Most of us here in Florida know whether we are in the evacuation zone, however, if you are new to the area please check out the Indian River County Disaster Preparedness Guide.

Don’t get caught up in the height of the craziness that comes with a possible hurricane coming your way and all the emotions that go along with it. Prepare and know the plan before you have to initiate it.