Making the decision whether or not to evacuate is a life or death decision. Ask yourself these questions:
If you live in a non-evacuation zone, consider the following statements before deciding to stay in your home. Click here.
If you are evacuating, do you know where you will go and how you will get there?
If you must evacuate, the best choice is to seek shelter with friends, family or a host home. Public shelters should be a shelter of last resort. While they are safe places to be in a storm, space and comforts are limited. Pack your essentials, but pack light because it is possible you may only have a space that measures 5 feet by 2 feet. Remember, a public shelter is not a cruise ship; it is a life boat with the mission to save lives.
Other things to know about public shelters:
Host Homes is a voluntary program offered by faith organizations, community groups and employers to provide a safe and comfortable shelter alternative. Participating organizations match members who live in a non-evacuation area with those who must evacuate. Then when a storm is coming our way, the “guest” will stay with the “host” during the storm. For more information, go to our Host Homes page.
Hotels and Motels:
Whether in the county, or on the road, hotels and motels are a temporary shelter option. In Pinellas County, there are locations in non-evacuation zones that may take pets or have accommodations for wheelchairs. When a storm is approaching, you can go to www.visitstpeteclearwater.com for a list of available hotels/motels.
To start your planning early, you can see a list of hotels/motels arranged by evacuation level by clicking here and filling in your address.
Do not stay in a dangerous situation just because you don’t have a ride. If you need special transportation assistance to a public shelter or a special needs shelter, YOU MUST REGISTER FOR TRANSPORTATION IN ADVANCE. To start the process you need to call (727) 464-3800. Select option 1 and leave your name and address on the answering machine. You will receive an application form in the mail that must be filled out and returned to Pinellas County Emergency Management. Once your application is approved and in the system, your local fire department will be able to pick you up during a hurricane evacuation and take you to a local shelter.
Buses will continue to run routes to help people get prepared for a storm until it is no longer safe to travel. When a storm is coming and people have been ordered to evacuate, special routes will move people to public shelters until the winds reach 40 mph. Rides are free during an evacuation. You can plan ahead by locating your nearest bus stop and public shelter. Learn more at the PSTA website at www.psta.net/.
If you are taking your own personal transportation to leave town, be sure you are leaving enough time to get to your final destination. Roads get crowded and traffic jams can put you in danger because a hurricane can take many different paths through the state. When a HURRICANE WATCH is issued, you need to be packing your car and ready to leave as soon as the WARNING is issued.
There are convenient ways for motorists to receive this up-to-date traffic information: Florida 511 Traveler Information System PSA
Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center
Department of Emergency Management
Citizen Information Center
(during an emergency activation call (727) 464-4333)