Hurricanes and storm surges are major threats to the Houston-Galveston region. Depending on the severity of the storm, it may become necessary to evacuate portions of the Houston-Galveston region.
Planning is critical to making sure you can evacuate quickly and safely. Your Disaster Preparedness Plan will help guide you and your family’s response and actions during a hurricane, tropical storm, flood, or other natural disaster. The best time to create a plan is before hurricane season when you have time to plan and consider alternatives. If you wait before a hurricane arrives, you will be rushing to prepare your family as well as your home.
Coastal residents should take extra steps to prepare for an evacuation by becoming familiar with their evacuation zone and the evacuation routes in their community.
H-GAC's Hurricane Preparedness Guide
Hurricanes bring destructive winds, heavy rains, and storm surge, posing serious threats to property and lives throughout the Houston-Galveston region. Armed with the right information and proactive measures, we can weather the storm together and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Let this guide empower you to face the storm with confidence and resilience.
Evacuation Information and Maps
Hurricane Evacuation Zip Zone Maps
When a tropical storm or hurricane threatens the Houston-Galveston region, the National Weather Service will forecast the expected height of storm surge and wave action. This information is used by emergency management officials to order evacuations.
Local emergency officials use a zip zone system to order evacuations based on the anticipated heights and extent of storm surge to remove residents in danger of being flooded by storm surge.
You should only evacuate if you live in a storm surge evacuation zone or are ordered by elected and emergency officials to evacuate.
Download a detailed zip code map to find your hurricane evacuation zip zone and evaluate your evacuation plans.
Download a detailed evacuation map to help determine the best route for you and your family’s safety if you need to evacuate.
Know Your Zone
If it becomes necessary to evacuate residents during a hurricane, authorities will issue evacuation orders by zip code zone or “zip zone.” Coastal residents should become familiar with zip zone in which they reside.
Knowing your zone will help you better understand when and if you need to evacuate during a hurricane or other serious storm. It will also help you avoid unnecessary evacuation travel, thereby reducing highway congestion, easing overcrowding at local storm shelters, and boosting public safety.
Below, you can find detailed zip zone and evacuation route maps for the Southeast Texas region.
For Residents Who Live Outside the Zip Zones
Shelter in Place
Residents who live outside the hurricane evacuation zones should be prepared to shelter in during a severe storm. Prepare an emergency supply kit with enough non-perishable food and water for at least three days. If you have pets or large animals in your care, plan to have enough food to last them for several days. Also, plan for relatives with medical or special needs.
Visit TogetherAgainstTheWeather.com for more information on how to prepare seniors, and individuals who may be ill or have a disability for hurricane season.
If you feel the need to leave your residence, allow those who live in evacuation zones to leave the coastal area first.
Shelter-in-Place Safety Tips
Pay close attention to the local news for emergency updates and official instructions. Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. Before the storm, turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. This will keep food fresh longer if the power goes out. Store water in clean bathtubs, jugs, and bottles.
If the power go out, unplug all appliances, TVs, stereos, and computers not connected to a surge-protected outlet. Doing this will reduce potential damages from power surges when electricity is restored. Store valuables and personal documents in waterproof containers. Keep flashlights handy.
Emergency Supply Kit Essentials
Residents who shelter in place during a hurricane or severe storm should have a well-stocked emergency supply kit. Below are some essential items every kit should include:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help if needed)
- Dust masks (to help filter contaminated air)
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Manual can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Visit ready.gov for more information on how to prepare your home and family for a hurricane and other disaster planning tips.
Harris County Interactive Evacuation Map
The Harris County Office of Emergency Management has developed an interactive evacuation map to help residents decide if they live in an evacuation zone. Find out if your residence is in an evacuation zone to help develop your hurricane plan.
How to Use Zip Zone and Evacuation Route Maps
It is important to know your evacuation zip zone and nearby available hurricane evacuation ahead of time so you and your family can evacuate quickly and safely when necessary. Hurricane evacuations are staggered to prevent highway congestion and allow for quicker, safer movement of people. If an evacuation becomes necessary, orders will be issued by emergency management personnel based on zip zones.
Using the Zip Zone Maps
The Houston-Galveston region has four zip zone areas, classified based on their level of threat from storm surge.
Use the hurricane zip zone maps to easily find your evacuation zone so that you’ll be ready to move quickly if your zone is announced. If you have other family members who live in a coastal area, become familiar with their evacuation zone as well. You may be able to help them with their evacuation plans.
Zip zone maps are updated each year before hurricane season.
Using the Evacuation Route Maps
Hurricane evacuation routes are specially designated roadways used to supply the safest and most timely evacuation of coastal areas during a hurricane threat.
Once you are familiar with your zip zone, it is important to know the evacuation routes near you.
Download and save a copy of the evacuation route map so you know how to safely and quickly leave the area. Evacuation route maps are updated each year before hurricane season.
Evacuation Planning Tips
Have a Plan
Hurricanes bring many hazards to coastal and inland areas, such as storm surge, inland flooding, and high winds. It is important to understand what types of hazards could happen where you live and create a plan on how to prepare for them.
Make sure everyone in your household understands your hurricane plan. Also, create a plan for your place of work, children’s daycare, close relatives living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, and any place you frequent often.
Build Your Kit
Create an emergency supply kit with essential supplies you will need to take with you when evacuating. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this emergency essentials checklist from Harris County, which includes essential items to protect against COVID-19.
Shop early and give yourself more time to buy emergency supplies. Have refills for prescriptions and other medical supplies your family uses regularly.
If you have pets, include in your kit basic survival items, medications, and items to keep your pets happy. Visit ready.gov/pets for more information about preparing pets for a natural disaster.
Review Important Documents
There are several essential documents you will want to take with you or safeguard in the event of an evacuation. These documents include your identification, insurance information, and medical information.
Make sure these documents are current and take measures to safeguard them now. Make copies and keep them in a safety deposit box or a secure, password-protected digital space. Visit ready.gov for a full list of critical documents to safeguard to prepare for a natural disaster.
Prepare Your Family
You may need to evacuate quickly during a hurricane. Make sure every member of your household is familiar with your evacuation zone, evacuation routes, and where you will stay. Practice with your family and pets. If you or anyone in your household has a disability, identify if you may need additional help during an evacuation.
Residents with special needs can sign up for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR). The STEAR program provides local emergency planners and first responders with additional information on the needs in their community. Learn more about STEAR at tdem.texas.gov/stear/.
Pay Attention to Alerts and Warnings
There are several ways to receive warnings and alerts. Residents can download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Also, sign up for community alerts in your area, and pay close attention to weather reports from your local news sources. Be aware of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert, which requires no signup.
Evacuate When You're Told
Only evacuate when you are instructed to do so by local officials. By waiting until your zip zone is called to evacuate, you will help reduce congestion and enhance roadway safety for fellow travelers. At the same time, when your zip zone is called to evacuate, leave immediately. Do not wait until the last minute. When it is time to leave, follow any guidelines and directions given on routes and what to do.
After the storm has passed, pay close attention to emergency officials’ instructions through local news reports and emergency alerts. They will announce when it is safe to return to the area. There may still be hidden hazards that first responders and emergency officials need to clear before residents can safely return to their homes.
For more information on how to plan for a hurricane evacuation and for other disaster preparedness resources, visit ready.gov, the official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Other Resources for Hurricane Preparedness
See below for more resources from H-GAC and our community partners on how to prepare for hurricane season in Texas.
Together Against the Weather
Hurricane Video Playlist
Click below to watch our hurricane preparedness video playlist on the H-GAC YouTube channel.
H-GAC works closely with many federal, state, regional, and local agencies to prepare for severe weather events and plan regional evacuation routes. Visit our Preparedness Resources page for more information on how to plan for severe weather and other emergencies from our partners throughout the region.