PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Bob Safransky is one of the thousands of Pinellas County residents who are now living in different evacuation zones in Pinellas County. Every five years, county emergency managers meet and look at new data supplied by the National Hurricane Center and determine if evacuation zones need to be altered.
Safransky, who lives in a neighborhood in Pinellas Park, was in a ‘B’ evacuation zone. Now, he is in an ‘A’ zone.
“Where am I gonna go,” asked Safransky. “One of my sons, where I went when we had to move a few years ago, he sold his house and moved somewhere else.”
In 2022, more than 34,000 addresses moved from a lower risk zone to a higher risk zone and about 13,600 addresses moved from a higher risk zone to a lower risk zone. The county uses the term ‘addresses’ because some property owners don’t live at the affected homes or businesses.
Joe Borries, the operations manager for the Pinellas Emergency Management department, explained how the maps are adjusted.
“The model is like a bathtub,” Borries said. “We look at the topology and then we raise the water up above that and that shows us where the vulnerability of the storm surges are.”
Borries said the county did notify those who were affected.
“We did send postcards to every resident that had a change in evacuation zone,” Borries said. “Whether it was higher or lower.”
Residents are encouraged to check their zones by logging onto storm.pinellascounty.org
Harry Jett lives a few doors down from Safransky. He said if the county orders an evacuation, he won’t think twice about leaving.
“I take it a lot more seriously now because the water has gotten real high,” Jett said. “And like I said, the drainage behind here with the cross bayou, they don’t maintain it.”