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Pinellas County Releases New Evacuation Zones

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Thousands of residents in Pinellas County are now in new evacuation zones.

The county released a new map of the areas on Wednesday.

Along Atwood Avenue North, the neighborhood used to be in the orange zone, which means people would need to evacuate around 15 feet of storm surge, but now they are in the red, meaning they would have to evacuate at any point up to 11 feet of storm surge.

"If we need to go, I guess we will just pack up and go on a vacation," said Richard Tubbs, a resident of Atwood Avenue North.

Atwood Avenue North used to be in evacuation Zone B but now is in evacuation Zone A.

"Our A zone. This is what we would most likely for a category one storm, so these are the first folks who are going to evacuate," said Cathie Perkins, Director of Pinellas County Emergency Management.

On Wednesday, after evaluating the possibility of storm surge across Pinellas County, the Pinellas County Emergency Management Department released its new evacuation map.

"To see where the risks for the surge is as we move into the future," said Perkins.

Perkins says a total of 93,000 homes were impacted by the change.

"66,000 have an increased risk, which means they moved from a Zone B to a Zone A and then we have another group that moved to a lower risk," said Perkins.

She says 4,700 people who were not in evacuation zones, now are.

"Some of our waterways, like Joes Creek, we see in Gulfport, we see in Tarpon Springs," said Perkins.

She says it's important to know what evacuation zone you are in to protect you during severe weather.

"The majority of the deaths that occur during a hurricane are actually from storm surge, so that water when it comes in is going to be very rapid, and it's going to be very strong and that's when people lose their lives," said Perkins.

Tubbs says this information is critical.

"You want to take your precautions, you want to be safe, and keep your family safe, and in the event that you need to leave, you need to know when to do it so you're not congesting the interstates," said Tubbs.

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