NORFOLK, Va. - 2020 was the busiest Atlantic Hurricane season ever, so state leaders want people to be preparing now as hurricane season officially begins June 1.
"At the end of the day, it only takes one storm for our area," said Erin Sutton, Chief Deputy State Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "The biggest message that we can communicate is to make that everyone has their plan, that they have their kit, and especially for Hampton Roads - understanding their zones for evacuation."
The state uses different zones in order to evacuate people from A to D with A being the most at-risk for flooding and storm surge. This year the zones will be used by region, so officials can differentiate if people in the same zone, but different areas need to evacuate.
Forecasters are once again predicting a busy season.
"June 1 for us does identify as a benchmark as we really kind of focus in on making sure that contracts are in place and we have the right information that we're connecting with FEMA," said Sutton.
Last year, the state prepared for potential hurricane shelters with social distancing in mind due to COVID-19. This year, those plans will remain in place as leaders expect not everyone will be vaccinated.
"We want to make sure that those that have to enter a shelter are safe and that we continue to take COVID precautions," said Sutton.
While storms making a direct threat to our area pose the most obvious risk, tropical systems moving our way from anywhere could pose a serious threat. Last year, a storm coming up from the south caused tornadoes across the area, including in Southampton County.
"As we've seen, these hurricanes come up from the Gulf Coast and up into Virginia but also flooding to the west as well, so as a state agency looking across the Commonwealth, it does become a challenge," said Sutton.
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