Ocean City Today

‘Know Your Zone’ evacuation plans coming to mainland

By Brian Gilliland | Mar 29, 2018
Photo by: Submitted image Proposed map

(March 30, 2018) A program that aids the orderly evacuation of flood-prone areas during major storms will be instituted by county government, the Worcester County Commissioners agreed last week.

Endorsed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and originally designed for coastal areas, the “Know Your Zone” protocols divide the mainland bayside and oceanside areas most vulnerable to coastal flooding into four zones.

The protocols have been in use for years in Ocean City, where the most vulnerable area, or red zone, is from the inlet to 33rd Street. Zones are also marked with decals on stop signs throughout Ocean City.

Flood zones and the evacuation zones are different.

As weather conditions worsen during an emergency, officials would have the ability to order evacuations from certain spots, or in a certain order, to facilitate the effort.

Using up-to-date modeling of storm surge behavior, emergency management personnel can make educated guesses at how coastal areas will be affected by a particular storm or dangerous environmental event. The most at-risk areas could be evacuated first to help minimize traffic congestion, for example.

Kyle Overly, from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, told the commissioners the original proposal was developed by both MEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Then, representatives from the county’s emergency services and development review and permitting departments met with MEMA and a consultant, Don Lewis of Atkins North America, to review the maps.

According to Fred Webster, director of county emergency services, Lewis has performed similar functions for several states and counties in developing evacuation maps.

At the end of January, state police, sheriff’s office, county public works, the State Highway Administration, the Town of Ocean City, Ed Tudor, director of development review and permitting, Kelly Henry, technical services division manager, Tom Kane, emergency management planner and Webster met to customize the zones.

Webster said the group’s better knowledge of local traffic patterns, roads and citizen behavior were used to adjust the state models to be more effective.

The commissioners approved the plan in concept, which allows Webster to refine the idea before the county passes enabling legislation at a future meeting.

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