Special Report: Know Your Zone

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — There’s nothing in the tropics to track right now, but that’s why now is the best time to prepare for the next big storm.

The state recently released a new “Know Your Zone” campaign with maps aimed at making evacuations easier.

Governor announces new hurricane evacuation zone plan in Hampton

Hurricane predictions are getting better all the time, but scientists still can’t stop a storm.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when we’re going to get hit directly by a major storm,” State Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Stern told 10 on Your Side.

You can only imagine the kind of devastation a hurricane like Katrina could do in Hampton Roads when much lesser storms have killed three dozen people and cost us billions of dollars over the last 20 years.

“I think we use those moments as wake up calls to improve our plans,” Stern said.

That’s what Know Your Zone is all about. Experts spent three years using the most up-to-date engineering data to develop the new, interactive zone evacuation map.

There are just four zones, and it’s simple to find yours online. All you have to do is type in your address here.

Zone A is blue and is the most at-risk for flooding from a hurricane. The risk goes down from there: Zone B is green, C is orange and D is red.

The Castillo family hadn’t thought much about an evacuation plan until Hurricane Matthew sunk their subdivision in Virginia Beach last year. Now, Cecile Castillo says she is thinking differently.

“You know, be prepared,” she told 10 On Your Side.

Cecile will certainly be listening for any orders to evacuate — but to where?

“Just drive and get out of here!” she laughed.

Evacuation routes have not changed. The I-64 lane reversal is still in the tool box, but officials say this is for the worst case scenario. After all, can you imagine a million people trying to leave at once? You’d probably go no where fast, so check the zones around you. Getting to safety may actually be just steps away.

For example, at the corner of Colley Avenue and 21st Street in Norfolk, one side of the road is in Zone B the other is in Zone C.

The Castillos’ son lives in Zone D, the safest zone. Now they know if Zone B is evacuated and Zone D isn’t, they can just go to his house.

The zone map covers 23 localities and 1.25 million people living in Coastal Virginia.