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The original item was published from 9/18/2023 1:58:23 PM to 9/18/2023 2:45:24 PM.

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Emergency Management

Posted on: September 19, 2023

[ARCHIVED] 20 years after Isabel: Emergency message & evacuations


Sept. 19, 2023 - On September 17, 2003, Hampton officials were the first in the state to issue a mandatory evacuation order for the most vulnerable areas of the city in anticipation of the powerful winds and storm surge.  Other Hampton Roads and surrounding localities also followed with mandatory or recommended evacuations.

Some Hampton residents opted to leave the area while the staff of Hampton Human Services provided mass care emergency shelter for hundreds of others in the safety of Hampton City Public Schools facilities.  Hampton Police and Fire/EMS were able to assist with some last-minute evacuations using high water vehicles and boats when the wind permitted.

Hurricane Isabel’s combination of wind, rain, and storm surge left a path of flooding, downed trees and power lines, and debris across the city.  City crews worked tirelessly to clear roadways for first responders and residents; however, the ability to navigate the area was severely impacted for days.  Many who opted not to evacuate before the storm found themselves unable to leave their homes with no choice but to shelter in place.  Due to the loss of power, stores, gas stations, pharmacies, restaurants, banks, and many other service providers were closed for an extended period of time.  Those without emergency supply kits struggled to find necessities such as food and water as well as standard convenience items.


KNOW YOUR ZONE.  Tiered evacuation zones (A-D) allow residents to understand when they are impacted by mandatory or voluntary evacuations. Act now by visiting to find your evacuation zone.

*STAY INFORMED: In the event of an emergency, stay alert by using your FM/AM radio, NOAA weather radio, local media, or smart phone apps.  Sign up for City of Hampton messaging.

UNDERSTAND EMERGENCY MESSAGES: Become familiar with the meaning of Alerts and Warnings and have a plan of action.  Always heed mandatory evacuation orders. For additional information, visit A Guide for Alerts and Warnings.  

KNOW WHEN TO GO: Follow the guidance of local, state, or federal officials regarding if and when to evacuation.  Be aware that storm conditions may become so severe that first responders (Fire/EMS/Police) are unable to navigate roads for an extended period of time to respond to emergencies or perform rescues.

KNOW WHERE TO GO: Have an evacuation plan in advance which includes your destination and alternate routes.  Stay tuned to local media and Hampton information outlets for the locations of local shelters.

EVACUATION PLANNING: For additional information, visit Evacuation |

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