Hurricane evacuation always a tough decision


There are times when Viera and Suntree residents need to evacuate before a hurricane strikes.

Viera Voice Photo

Should Viera and Suntree residents evacuate in the event of a hurricane?

The answer to that largely depends on circumstance.

First, some good news: The Viera-Suntree area isn’t prone to storm surge. However, the area is obviously prone to damage caused by wind and rainfall (flooding) that a hurricane brings to the area.

To that end, all residents who live in a mobile home should evacuate when evacuations are called for by Brevard County Emergency Management.

Beyond that, the answer to the question is a bit more nuanced.

John Scott, who serves as operations manager for Brevard County Emergency Management, spoke about the topic at a hurricane preparedness event.

He noted that those in constructed housing should evaluate the integrity of their roof, windows and doors. He also suggested that residents have wind-mitigation tests performed on their homes to determine if they would be safe.

“Obviously, the newer the home, the stronger the building codes so that helps quite a bit,” Scott said. “The other big thing I’ll talk about is just in general, Florida has an older population, an aging population and all of us have medical issues. So make sure that that’s part of it. The need for water from a reliable source, the need for a reliable connectivity to power. If your health depends on either of those two, make sure you’re going somewhere where you can do that.”

In general, with Viera-Suntree being a relatively new community, it has an advantage in that the majority of structures were built after Hurricane Andrew. Tougher building codes were mandated following the storm that devastated portions of South Florida in 1992.

“If you’re in an older-built home, look at the connection points in your house. So, how strong is your roof? How old is your roof? If you can add tie-downs, if you need to add tie-downs.  Those are things that are out there that you can get. Make sure your envelope is safe so make sure your building is safe so your windows are covered. Your doors are safe, your doors are stronger. If you’re not sure what that is, lots of companies do a wind-mitigation inspection where they’ll actually come out and look at those connection points and tell you whether or not you need to take some additional measures. Or, what we call mitigation.”

Ken Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center, notes that a lot of the decision-making progress comes down to having the right information and whether or not residents are comfortable based upon what they know.

“The biggest thing is to be safe and it goes back to knowing your risk,” Graham added. “If you’re in a structure that’s not strong, it’s best to have a place to go to find a better shelter.”