City of Flagstaff rolls out new evacuation process for residents

A new evacuation plan is in place for the Flagstaff area where neighborhoods are broken up into zones so people know when to leave during an emergency.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 8:54 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The city of Flagstaff is rolling out a new evacuation plan. They’re breaking Coconino County into zones to help give people advance notice on which areas are most at risk during major events like wildfires and floods. It’s split into more than 100 zones. So, for example, if there is a wildfire near Zone 68, everyone living in that zone would be given specific instructions on what to do during an emergency. Flagstaff firefighters actually brought this idea to the city after working on a fire in New Mexico. “When you break evacuations into zones, you lessen the burden on the resources, you speed up the information flow. It also speeds up reentry back in,” Daniel Kelly, the Flagstaff emergency manager, said. “It coincided with the county that just rolled theirs out a couple of weeks ago.”

In the last few years alone, we have seen some extremes in northern Arizona. From wildfires to floods, it’s forced many people out of their homes. But now, Kelly says this is the new and improved evacuation process. “We say, ‘hey, this zone right here’ and we list the number whether you’re on ready, set or go status, it’s clear and you know exactly what you’re being told to do,” he said.

The zones are grouped into easily-recognizable areas to help with communication during emergencies. Kelly says this will also help clear up any confusion. “Before we would say ‘Between this street and this street, this neighborhood needs to evacuate.’ But then it’s like, well, I live near that street or just across from that street, do I have to go too? Or just the other side of the street?” Kelly said.

Monsoon rains created a flash flood in a man's backyard in Flagstaff and he's glad his sandbags held up to protect his home.

This is an all-hazards evacuation map, meaning it’s not just for fires but for floods or hazmat-type incidents. Flagstaff resident Mike Anderson was evacuated from his home twice last year because of the wildfires. He believes this will be a safer and more beneficial tool. “We lost 35 homes in our neighborhood,” Anderson said. “The wind pushed that fire so quickly it was terrifying. I think people need to adhere it, become familiar with it and work with it.”

How it works: Click on this link and type in your address. You will then click the PDF on the left that breaks down the exact streets. The city encourages everyone to learn about the zones you live and work in.

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