BEFORE THE DECISION; KNOW YOUR ZONE & DIVISION
In times of an emergency, specifically a hurricane or natural disaster, the Town of Ocean City wants residents, property owners and visitors to KNOW YOUR ZONE & DIVISION where you live and visit! Your zone and division are determined by two variables: Property location and vulnerability to flood inundation.
The zone colors, which are broken down by divisions, are determined by the Town of Ocean City’s Comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan, which divides the Town into four “divisions.” The zone letters (A, B & C), however, are determined by the possible flood inundation levels where you live. In other words, our “Low Lying Area” (or areas with a 4 foot flood inundation) can be found in Zone A.
Because the term “Low Lying Area” can be vague, the new zones help residents and property owners have a clear understanding of their flood vulnerability. It’s important to remember that just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history; it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.
Is a Flood Inundation Zone the same as an Evacuation Zone?
No! Flood zones are areas established by the National Weather Service using historical and statistical data of flooding and/or tidal surge potential to Ocean City, which provide residents and property owners their degree of flood risk. Emergency Managers use flood inundation, tidal surge, and winds to determine potential risk to the various communities throughout the Town, specifically in a storm or emergency. It is important for our residents, property owners and visitors to know which zone and division they reside, incase an evacuation is required.
What is our community’s evacuation plan?
Should a hurricane (or natural disaster) threaten the Ocean City area, an evacuation order may be issued. An evacuation order is a protective action whereby citizens are moved from a place of danger to a place of relative safety when a disaster is a threat to life, and/or the property of our residents and visitors in Ocean City.
The Town of Ocean City’s Hazard Plan for Evacuation is developed from data in the US Army Corps of Engineers Hurricane Evacuation Study, and additionally, the National Hurricane Center’s SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) Model to further calculate potential flooding effects that could be expected by storm surge. The study and model focus on a “worst case scenario” to ensure the protection of our population. The “worst case” approach was used in presenting possible hurricane effects because of the inaccuracies in forecasting the precise track and other parameters of approaching hurricanes; to assist our government in making critical protective and evacuation decisions. This information is utilized in the decision making process for evacuation decisions when coastal storm events are approaching the Ocean City area in conjunction with information provided by the National Weather Services and the National Hurricane Center.
Because of life safety concerns and property damage caused during a disaster or other unusual occurrence, specific properties, multiple locations or the entire City may require evacuation. Both actual damage and potential hazards must be considered. The lack of sanitary facilities, utilities services, or other health hazards may also necessitate such actions.
The Town of Ocean City uses the concept of phased decision points based primarily on the National Weather Service (NWS) storm classifications (advisory, watch, warning, etc.). These decision points will be used as an overall philosophy in hurricane planning, response, and recovery, and facilitates the actions necessary to give an evacuation order. Evacuation phases are built into these classifications. Hurricanes are classified using the Saffir/Simpson scale, which categorizes hurricanes based upon their intensity, and relates this intensity to damage potential. A significant number of hurricane injuries can occur from the approaching system and the strong winds and flooding that will result from the storm surge.
It is incredibly important that you KNOW YOUR ZONE & DIVISION and, if you are asked to go, move quickly but safely outside of the evacuation area.
Remember, Emergency Managers are counting on you to be prepared and do the right thing to keep yourself and your family out of dangerous situations. KNOW YOUR ZONE & DIVISION and have a plan for where you will go should something happen this hurricane season.
How can I Be Prepared?
Two keys to weather safety are to prepare for the risks and to act on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials. Some highlights on how to prepare and take action are found in three easy steps: Be Informed, Make a Plan and Build a Kit.
-Be Informed: The first step to being informed is to KNOW YOUR ZONE & DIVISION. It is also important to assess your risks and know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. It’s also essential to have a list of contact information for reference before a storm occurs, including emergency hotlines and numbers to State, County and Town of Ocean City Government. Finally, sign up to receive emergency alerts (by visiting: http://oceancitymd.gov/enews) and programing Ocean City’s FM Emergency Advisory Radio Station 99.5 into your radios. Also, for our out of town property owners, the Town also has a customized App for Android (Google) and iPhone users, which can be downloaded at your App store!!
-Make a Plan: Everyone needs to be prepared for the unexpected. Your friends and family may not be together when disaster strikes, so all families are encouraged to establish a Family Communications Plan in advance to establish what you will do in difference situations during an emergency. You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends
Note: Ready.gov has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends.
-Build a Kit: A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them. You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days. Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
Flood Hazard Information:
Beginning July 2015, FEMA’s new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) will be effective for the Town of Ocean City. As a result of the revised flood maps, new flood zones and new flood rates will apply to flood insurance policies.
While many Ocean City properties will experience insurance premium relief, it’s important to remember that Ocean City is a barrier island, subject to severe storms and flooding. Although your bank may no longer require you to have flood insurance, based on FEMA’s FIRM map changes, approximately 30% of all flooding in the U.S. occurs in moderate to low risk flood zones. Further, studies show many properties without flood insurance typically are not rebuilt after a flood disaster.
For more details about your flood insurance policy and the forthcoming changes, please contact your insurance provider and/or an experienced insurance professional that is well versed in flood insurance. Flood Insurance is encouraged.