No one wants to be told they must leave their home, especially if that home is in danger. However, the purpose of evacuation orders is to protect the people, focus and preserve limited resources of first responders (police, paramedics and fire fighters) and enforce laws and local, state and federal governments are allowed to create and enforce regulations that promote public safety.
Nearly every state gives the Governor power to take emergency action during a pending disaster or disaster, and some states, including Florida (in Section 252), specifically allow the Governor to order mandatory evacuations. Other states, like North Carolina, have an evacuation statute, making violation of an evacuation order a crime. Courts in every state have upheld these statutes, along with the government’s interest in preserving life and protecting property.
Mayors have less binding legal authority, but certainly often can get the Governor’s office to co-sign their decision making process. However, they often are making well informed decisions that we should ALL adhere to. As Jacksonville’s Mayor, Lenny Curry put it this week, “If someone does not evacuate the Beaches, are we going to go in and find them or enforce a law against them? No. But they will have no access — it’s important that they know this – they will have no access to public safety workers, or any other government needs that they may need, particularly during a storm or after a storm.”
A curfew is a public safety measure designed to help keep people from being in public during certain times of the day or night, at a time when it is not considered safe to be moving about the community or where there is a need to restrict movement to protect people or property.
A curfew is often imposed on residents in the aftermath of an emergency, such as a hurricane. This is a time when homes and businesses may be severely damaged, law enforcement and emergency resources are strained, and some roads and highways may be blocked due to debris, downed power lines or other dangerous conditions.
Violating an imposed curfew can lead to arrest and there is no defense by saying you didn’t know it was in place. Resisting the arrest can certainly lead to other charges being pursued.
Whether in an evacuation zone or not, be smart and safe. Social media has risks that we need to be reminded of sometimes. Do not post that you are leaving or evacuating your house. It makes it easy for thieves or looters to take advantage. If you insist, at least move the setting of “share with” from public to friends.
The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. If you are evacuating, do so sooner rather than later. Traffic will be bad and you don’t want to be sitting in traffic as a storm comes. Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into these or flooded areas.
If you are leaving, unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances to prevent power surges or fire if water intrusion happens. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home or you are in a high risk area, consider shutting off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
Mostly… be safe, be smart and try to be calm. Life is more important than material things.
IMPORTANT JACKSONVILLE LINKS/CONTACT INFORMATION:
Duval County shelter information: CLICK HERE
Duval County CODE RED notifications: CLICK HERE
Duval County special needs registry: CLICK HERE
Download the First Coast News APP to receive weather alerts: CLICK HERE
Important Phone Numbers:
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office: (904) 630-0500
Atlantic Beach Police Department: (904) 247-5859
Neptune Beach Police Department: (904) 270-2413
Jacksonville Beach Police Department: (904) 247-6171
Beaches Energy: (904) 247-6171
JEA: (904) 665-6000