An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Evacuation Zones vs. Flood Zones - Do you know the difference?

Hillsborough logo

Two different designations for two different purposes

Though they are often mistaken for each other, Flood Zones and Evacuation Zones are two very different things that measure very different conditions. So what's the difference? And when do you use them? Here is what you need to know:

Evacuation Zones

These are the areas that officials may order evacuated during a hurricane. These zones are mapped by the National Hurricane Center and indicate areas that will be affected by storm surge - storm-driven waves that can inundate a community, and threaten lives. Zones in Hillsborough County are identified from A - E, and there are parts of the county that are not in an evacuation zone.

Find Evacuation Information.

Due to significant changes in the evacuation map in 2022, your evacuation zone may have changed or you may be in an evacuation zone for the first time. Please check your evacuation zone.

Flood Zones

These federally identified zones indicate a property's risk for flooding at any time of the year, including as a result of heavy or steady rain. This zone has nothing to do with hurricanes or other emergencies, and everything to do with your property insurance and building requirements. Nationally, these zones are classified as Zones A (Special Flood Hazard Area), B, C, D, V and X. Every property is in a flood zone.

Find My Flood Zone.

Interestingly, a home may be in a non-evacuation zone, but still be in a high risk flood zone because of a nearby pond or stream. Alternatively, a home could be in a low risk flood zone, but still in an early evacuation zone because of storm surge projections or high winds.

That's why it's important to know both your Flood Zone and your Evacuation Zone, and the difference between them. Still unsure?

Here's a helpful guide on when to use which map:

When to check the Evacuation Zone Map

  • Before hurricane season to make sure your family prepared
  • During a hurricane or major storm, to know if you should evacuate
When to check the Flood Zone Map
  • You own, rent, or are buying a new property and don't know if you need flood insurance
  • You refinance or get a mortgage
  • You need building permits for work on your property
  • You live in a low-lying area or near a stream, pond or body of water