Is Sarasota, Florida, Evacuating Because of Hurricane Irma? [Updated]

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Irma is headed toward the Bahamas and then will move straight on toward the United States, bringing some nasty weather to Florida over the weekend. The storm is still a Category 5 as it rips through the Caribbean leaving sheer devastation in her wake.

While Irma’s track seems to be moving more east with each update, several Floridians in the western part of the Sunshine State are considering leaving, while others have already left. Many residents living in flood zones aren’t taking any chances. There is not a mandatory evacuation in place at this time, but that could change in the next 24 to 48 hours.

On Thursday morning, Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said that a voluntary evacuation of Sarasota County’s barrier islands will likely go into effect at 7 a.m. Friday morning as a precaution due to the current forecast.

“We want people to have fuel in their vehicles, take their supplies with them, think about where they’re going to go and do that planning,” Chief McCrane said previously. He encouraged residents to make sure they had a place to go before leaving home and to keep in mind that they don’t have to go far — they just need to move away from the coast if they choose to leave (or if a mandatory evacuation is issued).

According to the Sarasota County government website, there are 20 emergency shelters set up for residents and visitors if conditions become extremely poor where you are.

Sarasota County Emergency Services’ “Know Your Zone” map where you can enter your address and find evacuation zones, routes, shelters, and nearby hospitals.

Below is a map of the evacuation zones, routes, and shelters in Sarasota County.

Sarasota evacuation route

Sarasota County Government

For more information about evacuation routes, flood zones, and shelters in Sarasota County, click here.

Sarasota County in Florida is currently at Level 2 – Activation of State Emergency Response Team, which is explained below.

“This is an agency activation that may not require activation of every section, branch or Emergency Support Functions. All primary, or lead, Emergency Support Functions are notified. The State Emergency Operations Center will be staffed by Division of Emergency Management personnel and necessary Emergency Support Functions.”