75,000 Hillsborough County residents in evacuation zone for first time

Hillsborough County officials released new evacuation zones, and the changes made have put 75,000 people in an evacuation zone for the first time. 

Many East Tampa residents are in a storm evacuation zone for the first time due to the map changes. The area bordered by the Hillsborough River to the north, Harney Road to the east, I-4 to the south, and I-275 to the west has been moved to Zone E, according to county officials.

Other areas that are in evacuation zones for the first time are communities south of Egypt Lake Ledo and in the Sun City Center area.

"Those are folks that may have never even been in an evacuation zone before," said Katja Miller, Human Services and Mass Care Emergency Management program coordinator with Hillsborough County. "So, again, with those updates, what happened is it expanded a lot of the evacuation zones."

County officials said Zone E is considered to be the final evacuation zone in the face of a threatening storm. Separately, 55,000 Hillsborough residents are no longer in an evacuation zone – for the first time. 

Miller said the changes were based on new sea level rise data and updated census data, combined with the potential impact of a storm surge.

"Some of those determinations this year was saying, 'hey, guys, if we were to have a large storm, we wouldn't have access to these folks,'" Miller said. "So those are other things that we take into account when we're looking at those evacuation zones."

Hillsborough officials are urging residents to start preparing for storm season now. Review your evacuation zone and have a disaster kit for evacuations or prolonged power outages ready. 

To check your evacuation zone, visit HCFLGov.net/HEAT.