When taking our preparedness survey, an overwhelming amount of you asked the questions “Where are our nearest shelters?” and “What are our evacuation routes”. We totally understand your concern and your need to feel informed ahead of time. The answer, unfortunately, is that we don’t release that information until we assess the threat.
Why? Large-scale emergencies can vary in their scope and location, therefore, the instructions on where to go and what to do can vary. Factors such as wind speed, wind direction, flooding, road closures, etc. can affect which shelters are open and how instructions are given.
Based on what is known about the threat, you may be asked to take shelter, go to a specific location, or evacuate the area following a specific route.
We work in cooperation with the American Red Cross to keep a list of potential shelters but we can’t tell you that a particular place is a shelter, because we don’t know if it will be open (or stood up) until we assess the threat.
If we told the public that a specific place can act as a shelter, they would go to that location automatically without listening to formal instructions. It might not be open.
Furthermore, they may put themselves in harm’s way trying to get there. This is also why we don’t release evacuation routes ahead of time. If a road is flooded, we don’t want you to travel on it. If there’s a hazmat incident, we don’t want you to travel in that direction.
We will tell you the safest routes to travel on, but we need to know what’s going on first. We will work to determine the severity and details of the threat as quickly as possible in order to let you know what to do.
During an emergency, you want to listen for official information and immediately follow the instructions provided by emergency response personnel.
For any potential emergency or disaster, it is important for you to have a reliable means to receive official warnings and instructions. This includes solar- or battery-powered radios (in case of a power outage), television, cell phones, official government websites, and social media.
You can sign up for the Community Emergency Notification System (http://www.maricopa.gov/1755/Community-Emergency-Notification-System-) which registers your cell phone the receive a recorded message with instructions.
You can also download the Ready Maricopa Mobile App for your smartphone (https://www.maricopa.gov/4734/Mobile-App). This app will walk you through the process of creating a plan, a kit, and a go bag, as well as show you evacuation routes and shelters when they become available.
No matter where you are, be prepared for any type of emergency and be ready to take action this includes creating a plan for your family that can include places to meet and how to reach each other.
For more information regarding Red Cross shelters and to find out which shelters are currently open visit: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/find-an-open-shelter. Please note: shelters are not listed on this page unless they are open.