Post Disaster Re-Entry

Returning to Walton County After an Evacuation 


Access to south Walton County may be restricted immediately after an emergency which requires an evacuation. The Clyde B. Wells Bridge (also known as the Choctawhatchee Bay Bridge) will remain closed until inspections by the Florida Department of Transportation are completed and it is deemed safe for travel. Emergency Response and damage assessment operations after the storm must be completed before the general public can be allowed back into the area.

Be aware and stay clear of disaster recovery operations. Avoid downed power lines, flooded or damaged roads and potentially unsafe buildings. Remember, wildlife such as snakes and other wild animals look for refuge in storms and may have made your home their safe haven during the storm.

Re-Entry into evacuated areas will be done in a phased approach.  The Phases are:

PHASE I – CLOSED: LIFE SAFETY AND RESCUE


  • Search and Rescue teams.
  • State, County and municipal public safety personnel.
  • Limited utility personnel (i.e., electric power and natural gas) to eliminate hazardous conditions for rescue personnel (e.g., gas leaks, downed power lines, etc.).
  • Other limited personnel at the discretion of the Walton County EOC.

PHASE II – RESTRICTED: DAMAGE ASSESSMENT AND INITIAL RESTORATION


  • Critical infrastructure damage assessment teams (e.g., public works, solid waste, utilities, etc.).
  • Federal, State, and local damage assessment teams.
  • Key businesses, including, but not limited to grocery stores, fuel providers, pharmacies, financial institutions, major developments, and other “big box” providers.
  • Essential personnel for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and dialysis centers.
  • Relief workers providing food and other supplies.
  • Other personnel at the discretion of the Walton County EOC.

PHASE III – LIMITED: RESTORATION


  • Healthcare agency support personnel including non-essential personnel for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and dialysis centers.
  • Key business operations that are essential to the recovery of the community may bring in necessary personnel who possess proper and valid identification in order to operate at full capacity.
  • Insurance agents and adjusters that possess proper and valid identification.
  • Contractors and workers that possess proper licenses and valid identification.
  • This phase allows for the re-entry of residents and business operators that live and/or work within the affected area.

PHASE IV – OPEN: GENERAL POPULATION RE-ENTRY (FULL ACCESS)


  • All others not mentioned above.

Re-Entry Process

County officials, in conjunction with Law Enforcement, will work together post disaster to determine when it is safe to begin the re-entry process.  Once the determination has been made, the public will be made aware via a variety of different platforms to including but not limited to Press Releases, Press Conferences, Alert Walton Notification, and/or Social Media.  You will only be able to gain access to the evacuated area once it is deemed necessary and safe for that Phase to be implemented.  Any attempts to gain access to the evacuated are outside of your proper Phase may result in your re-entry being significantly delayed or denied and could subject you potential law enforcement action.

The Florida State Emergency Response Team, State of Florida, and Walton County do not issue re-entry permits, decals, hang tags, or letters.

In order to re-enter the evacuated area you must present proper identification to the Law Enforcement Officer(s) manning the checkpoint.  Failure to provide the necessary identification and documentation will result in your re-entry being significantly delayed or denied.  Proper identification includes:

Residents:


  • A government issued photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport, citizen card, immigration document, etc.
If the address on the identification does not correspond to the area to be entered, the additional following documents will be accepted by law enforcement officers:
  • Current utility bills (within the last few months)
  • Mortgage deeds
  • Property tax documents
  • Voter registrations
  • Vehicle registrations

Phase 3 Business Owner/Essential Employee

  1. A current company-issued photo employee identification card, badge, or shield; or
  2. A current company-issued employee identification card, badge, or shield without photo plus a government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s      license

Phase 2 Business Owner/Essential Employee

 
  1. A current company-issued photo employee identification card, badge, or shield; or
  2.  A current company-issued employee identification card, badge, or shield without photo plus a government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s      license;
  3. An original company-issued letter on official letter head identifying the name of the employee and indicating the employee’s essential response role. Contact Emergency Management for a template letter. 
Business owners will also be required to show documents showing ownership/rental of business such as an insurance document, property tax documents, utility bill, etc.

(Note: Only a limited number of businesses qualify for Phase 2 re-entry.  If you are unclear of whether you qualify for Phase 2 please inquire with Emergency Management)