In an effort to ensure a more orderly evacuation of the Galveston-Houston area when a major hurricane approaches, Galveston, Brazoria and Harris counties along with the City of Houston have adopted a “zip code evacuation plan” for Hurricane Season.
The four zip code zones, which generally correspond to hurricane storm surge risk areas, begin along the coast and continue inland toward the greater Houston area, with the coastal zone evacuating first, and inland zones evacuating in succession until all coastal residents have evacuated.
Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
The intent of the zip code zone plan is to ease traffic congestion and assist residents of low-lying portions of Galveston, Brazoria and Harris counties to evacuate before those outside the risk areas enter the roadways.
“It can be a challenge to drive through Houston on any day of the week, but it is especially challenging when a hurricane is threatening,’’ said Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough. “We are pleased that our neighboring counties recognize that coastal residents and visitors are most at risk and need a head start on Houston’s highway system.”
The zip code zones are labeled Zip Zone Coastal, Zip Zone A, Zip Zone B and Zip Zone C.
Zip Zone Coastal encompasses the zip codes utilized on Galveston Island, Bolivar Peninsula, and portions of coastal Brazoria County including Freeport and Surfside. This is the most threatened geographic area and residents of these zip codes will evacuate first when a hurricane approaches.
Zip Zone A includes zip codes for nearly all of mainland Galveston County, eastern Brazoria County, and the communities along Clear Creek in southern Harris County.
Zip Zone B includes zip codes for eastern and southern Harris County, northwestern Galveston County and central Brazoria County.
Finally, Zip Zone C – the last region to evacuate under the new plan – includes eastern Harris County, portions of Houston, and most of northern Brazoria County.
“Since most people can readily recite their zip code, we felt this would be a simple way to convey an emergency evacuation message in stages,” said John Simsen, emergency management coordinator for Galveston County.
“Equally important is the need for citizens who live outside the zip zone evacuation areas to listen carefully to their elected officials when a storm approaches,” Simsen said. “The message may be: If you do not live in a storm surge area, and you live in a well-constructed home, please shelter in place.”
The new zip code evacuation map can be downloaded here.