While the residents of coastal areas in eastern Virginia evacuated as Hurricane Florence approached, and were able to go back home on Friday, it might not be the end of Virginians fleeing the storm.

The hurricane will dump rain in the double-digits over southwestern Virginia as it makes its path west and north.  That means rivers and streams could spill over their banks, and the saturated ground could prevent drainage, making for a dangerous brew of floodwaters far from the coast.

Residents of low-lying areas in southwestern Virginia could be forced out of their homes as the water levels rise in their communities.  Those in flood-prone areas should put safety first and leave their homes for higher ground if there is a hint of high water.  Don’t wait until you must be rescued off your roof!

Make sure not to drive on water-covered roadways.  Even a few inches of water can cause a vehicle to float into harm’s way.  Prepare ahead of time and be ready to leave your home with your family and pets. Safety first!

Even if you don’t have to leave your home, the rain and wind that are remnants of the hurricane could cause power, landline telephone, and cellular telephone outages that leave you stranded without access to others and emergency responders.

Here are some tips to help you get through this difficult time:


An emergency or disaster can erase the vital documents and records of our lives instantly. Using the Vital Document Checklist, collect all the important papers that apply to you. Make copies and store them in a weatherproof tote — even a large, plastic zip-top bag works. Keep your packet of documents someplace easily accessible so that you can get to it quickly in the event you need to evacuate in a hurry.

Vital document checklist:

  • Personal identification like passport, driver’s license and voter ID card
  • Personal Medication Record and medical and immunization records
  • Social Security card
  • Health insurance cards
  • Financial records like recent tax returns, bank statements, retirement accounts, credit card numbers and records of any stocks and/or bonds
  • Insurance policies
  • Deed(s) to your house or other properties
  • Family records like wills, birth, marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody, and death certificates.
  • Legal titles (home, auto) and/or lease agreements.
  • Important phone numbers of family members, friends, doctors, insurers — anyone who needs to know where you are
  • Records of passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs)
  • Video and photo inventory documenting your valuables and the interior and exterior of your home
  • Cash



Emergency supply kits should have the essentials to meet someone’s basic needs for a few days. Many people have these items in their homes but have not organized them into a kit.

Basic Emergency Supply Checklist:

Be prepared for an emergency or disaster by gathering basic supplies you’ll need to endure a crisis that leaves you without utilities, telephone or Internet and will provide nourishment for several days. A good rule of thumb is to have enough supplies to last each person or pet at least three days. Make sure to include any items for those with special needs, including babies or pets. Rotate food and water to ensure nothing has expired and check or replace batteries as needed to keep your kit up-to-date. For a complete list of supply-kit items and more information on creating a kit, visit www.ready.gov.

The right container will vary in a number of ways, depending on size, weight and the storage space available. Ideally, the container you use should be portable, durable and waterproof.


  • Water (one gallon per day per person)
  • Food (canned and dry goods, high-calorie food bars)
  • Personal first-aid kit
  • Battery-powered flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Battery-powered radio (with extra batteries)
  • Personal Medication Record
  • Prescriptions



  • Hygienic items (toothbrush/hand sanitizer/bathroom wipes, etc.)
  • Extra clothing
  • Blankets
  • Rain poncho
  • 12-hour light sticks
  • Whistle (to alert rescue parties)
  • Face mask (to avoid dangerous bacteria)
  • Insect repellant (important in areas with rain and flooding)


Important websites and phone numbers to have on hand:


FEMA (toll-free): 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) – http://www.fema.gov


American Red Cross (toll-free): 1-800-RED CROSS (733-2767)  http://www.redcross.org


For more information on preparing for an emergency, visit www.ready.gov.


An evacuation plan provides a sense of control in what will likely be a chaotic and frightening time. In the event of a disaster, listen to local news reports for status updates and evacuation instructions. Follow instructions for evacuation procedures and do not wait until the last minute to leave. Before you head out, make sure to check on family, friends and neighbors to ensure that they are taking the appropriate steps for their own safety and security. Get the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Evacuation Guide.



Planned Evacuation Checklist (if you have the chance to plan ahead)


Essential items you need to take:

  • Vital Document Packet — Ensures you have all your important papers
  • Emergency Supply Kit — Provides basic-living necessities for a few days
  • Cash
  • Maps: The official evacuation route, alternate routes and a list of shelters. You can find a list of open shelters at http://www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter
  • Car keys and keys to the place you are going (if applicable)


Grab and Go Checklist

If you have only moments before evacuating and haven’t prepared a Vital Document Packet or any emergency supplies, grab these items quickly and go!

(Note: Use travel routes specified by local authorities. Shortcuts could be impassable or dangerous.)


  • Driver’s license or personal identification
  • Basic supplies: Water, food, first-aid kit, hygiene items
  • Prescription medications, glasses or contact lenses
  • Maps: The official evacuation route, alternate routes and a list of shelters
  • Car keys and keys to the place you are going (if applicable)
  • Cash



Not all shelters and hotels accept pets. Plan ahead to stay with family, friends

or at other pet-friendly locations in case you need to evacuate your home.


Check out http://petfriendlytravel.com/pet_shelters for pet-friendly shelters or https://www.bringfido.com/ for pet-friendly hotels and accomodations.



❒ ID tags on collars and micro-chip pets

❒ Description and current photos of pets

❒ Immunization and medical records

❒ 1.5 gallons of water and sufficient food and medicine for at least 3 days

❒ Pet medication, copy of feeding and medication schedule for caregiver, shelter or boarding staff

❒ Serving bowls

❒ Collar, leash and carrier to transport pets safely

❒ Pet toys and bedding