ROBERTSDALE — With the population growing, Baldwin County is working to update evacuation plans to get people out of the area if a hurricane threatens to hit the Alabama coast, Baldwin …
ROBERTSDALE — With the population growing, Baldwin County is working to update evacuation plans to get people out of the area if a hurricane threatens to hit the Alabama coast, Baldwin County Local Emergency Planning Committee officials said Monday, June 13.
Zach Hood, director of the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency, said officials have been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies to prepare the evacuation study for about a year.
"We're going through our hurricane evacuation study. We've been going through this over the last year," Hood said. "Now, it's getting into the heart of it and the numbers that are being utilized for the evacuation study, the formula that FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have, in my opinion, based off what we see, is not a good reflection of the numbers that we have actually in our county."
Hood said county evacuation plans were updated in 2019 based on census data. He said the county's population has
increased since the 2020 census and officials are working to use more current data for the new plan.
Baldwin County had a population of 231,767 in the 2020 census, up from 182,265 in 2010. An estimate for the following year indicated that the county's population was 239,294. If the county's population increased the same 3.2% in the year since 2021, the number of residents would be about 247,000 in 2022.
"In the last two years, that has changed, has created a little obstacle to where they're going back to the drawing board for us," Hood said.
One part of the county evacuation plan being considered would be to put areas along some of the local rivers in a higher risk evacuation zone, Hood said. He said some areas along Fish, Perdido, Magnolia and Styx rivers have flooded during heavy rains in past hurricanes.
One consideration would be to put those areas in a primary evacuation zone, similar to areas near the coast.
"What we are saying is based on what we have seen at least the last three years is there's certainly a need to not only make individuals aware that live along the riverways or the tertiary waterways or even in low-lying areas that there's a threat coming, but to group that area with our coastal community, so it's very clear that the impacts from that particular occurrence is going to not only impact the Gulf Coast, but inland a ways up to, in some cases, could be the river systems," Hood said.