October 2016

Important phone numbers and websites

Pinellas County Emergency Management: (727) 464-3800 | www.pinellascounty.org/emergency

Find your evacuation level: (727) 453-3150 | www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/knowyourzone.htm

Register for special needs transportation: (727) 464-3800 | www.pinellascounty.org/forms/evac-assist.htm

Follow Pinellas County Emergency Management on Twitter: twitter.com/PinellasEM

Sign up for Pinellas County's Emergency Notification Service Alert Pinellas: (866) 484-3264 | www.pinellascounty.org/AlertPinellas

Set your Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) equipped all-hazards alert radio for Pinellas County: Enter code 012103

If you know someone who would like to receive the e-Lert newsletter, have them visit www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/subscribe.htm


Sally Says

Sally Bishop photoFrom the Desk of Pinellas County's Emergency Management Director

A line of cars at the gas station. Traffic crawling over bridges, heading inland. Empty grocery store shelves. Home improvement stores flooded with people buying up plywood to protect their windows. These were some of the scenes across much of Florida and up the coast of the southeastern United States as governors warned about Category 4 Hurricane Matthew’s approach.traffic

Then coastal communities from Florida to North Carolina witnessed first-hand the destructive power of a major hurricane. At Jacksonville Beach, tall sand dunes were flattened by a wall of storm surge that gushed into the streets. In Flagler Beach, floodwaters collapsed portions of A1A, which runs along the coast much like our Gulf Boulevard. There were widespread power outages across Florida’s northern coast.

This was not the worst of the storm. Even after Matthew’s winds had weakened slightly, the storm’s soaking rains caused massive flooding along North Carolina’s coast, trapping people who did not evacuate. Some who did not heed warnings to avoid driving through the floodwaters were swept away. A week after the storm, media reported that 17 of the 27 deaths caused by Matthew in the United States happened in North Carolina, mostly attributed to floods.

As we point out every year, hurricanes are a fact of life in our part of the world. Until we face a major storm such as Matthew, it’s easy to ignore that fact and the preparations we need to take. The end of the hurricane season may be near, but Matthew is a reminder that the threat is not over.

Thankfully, millions of people heeded the call to evacuate in enough time to flee the danger. The last time a Category 4 storm hit Pinellas County directly was near the end of an inactive hurricane season. Would you be ready to evacuate or safely hunker down if the next hurricane heads our way before Nov. 30?

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Hurricane Mathew trackAs a storm nears, understand what each of the following advisories mean and make sure you are preparing accordingly. For detailed information on how to plan for each of these steps, see the county’s All-Hazard Guide.


A hurricane is on a probable path to reach our area in five days.


As a storm moves closer to land, the accuracy of the forecast increases and residents should step up their preparation.

preparing for hurricaneHURRICANE WATCH ACTIONS (48 hours ahead)

Prepare as if the storm is headed directly for your home. Be ready for a Hurricane Warning within a few hours if the storm remains on track and begin acting on your disaster plan.


Be prepared for an evacuation order to be issued and know which zone you’re in so you can follow those orders.

  • Complete final preparations to evacuate or to shelter in your home.
  • If your plan is to travel out of the local area and you can leave at this point, go.
  • If you are registered for transportation to a public shelter, be ready to leave. Rescue workers will begin pick-ups shortly after an evacuation order is issued.


  • Determine if your residence is affected by the evacuation order - Does it include your evacuation zone or do you live in a mobile or manufactured home?
  • If you are evacuating locally, get to your shelter location within a few hours of the order.
  • If you are traveling out of the local area, leave immediately to avoid traffic jams.
  • Be aware of your evacuation time range, beginning and end.
  • If you are not required to evacuate, prepare a safe room in your home and stay off the roads.

Preparedness spotlight: Weather Alerts

phoneIf your mobile device is relatively new, it is probably equipped with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), a system used by local, state and federal authorities to send messages about dangerous weather and other emergencies. If your phone emits a loud beep during an Amber Alert, that means it is equipped with WEA. Visit www.ready.gov/alerts to learn more.   

What should you do if you get a weather alert? In some cases, a weather warning such as a tropical storm or hurricane warning may be distributed by the National Weather Service.  Currently, when wireless emergency alerts are issued they hit everyone in the county.  Since the alert will reach everyone – and since it will likely be general in nature – your first step should be to look for more information on the specific threat where you live and how it applies to you.

In Pinellas County, there are several ways you can determine if your home is under an evacuation order and what you should do:

  • know your zoneKnow Your Zone: On a local level, Pinellas County will advise which specific evacuation zones need to leave based on the threat: www.pinellascounty.org/knowyourzone
  • Alert Pinellas: The county will send specific messages during a hurricane using our emergency notification service, Alert Pinellas, identifying which zones are under a recommended or mandatory evacuation. You can sign up to receive these messages by phone and email: www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas.
  • Media/Website: During a tropical storm or hurricane warning, the county’s homepage, www.pinellascounty.org, will direct you to the latest information on threats to this area. This same information will be shared with local media throughout the event.
Citizen Information Center: Any time the county’s Emergency Operation Center is activated for a storm, staff will be on hand to answer questions at (727) 464-4333.

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