September 2021 – When the forecast cone of a named hurricane or tropical storm includes Tampa Bay, you may ask yourself the same question the famous English punk rock band, The Clash, asked: “Should I stay, or should I go?”
This question is not an easy one to answer, and there are various factors that determine how, when, and where to evacuate. Two of the major factors are transportation to and from home and shelter during the storm. This is why the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) is working with Hillsborough County’s Office of Emergency Management, the City of Tampa’s Office of Emergency Management, and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council to study evacuation practices among county residents and visitors.
The goal of the Storm Evacuation Forecast & Shelter-in-Place Scenarios Study is to develop improvements to the evacuation process and services without expensive road widening projects.
“Road expansion is costly and often not always the most effective solution.,” TPO project manager Allison Yeh, AICP, LEED GA explains. “In this study, we are especially interested in recommendations like changes in behavioral or operational improvements that are lower cost and effective.”
To identify the best recommendations, the study draws upon data and research collected from:
- Public surveys on how, where, why, and if Hillsborough County residents and visitors evacuate,
- A virtual open house held on August 25, 2021 with Hillsborough County residents and stakeholders,
- Best evacuation practices regionally and nationally, and
- Historical evacuation trends and traffic patterns in response to hurricanes, in particular Hurricane Irma in 2017
We want to hear from you!
The data we collect from participants helps us make future planning decisions for our community, but our data can only reflect your needs and opinions if you let us know what you think. Please complete a short survey (less than five minutes) to contribute to future evacuation planning.
For additional information, please visit the Storm Evacuation Forecast & Shelter-in-Place Scenarios Study Online Project Page and watch a recording of the Virtual Open House.