RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has lifted the evacuation order for low-lying areas of Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore and the Middle Peninsula.
Northam said in a news release Friday morning that the “imminent threat” of coastal flooding and high winds has passed.
“We believe it is safe for Virginians to begin returning home,” Northam said.
The governor’s office said that as residents begin returning to the evacuated parts of Virginia, they should check local government web sites and social media channels for more information about their specific areas. Localities will coordinate the return “with consideration to flooding and road conditions, public health and medical concerns,” the news release said.
Residents can check local road conditions at www.511Virginia.org or by dialing 511.
Northam had ordered a first-of-its-kind evacuation of Zone A, or especially low-lying coastal regions, beginning Tuesday morning when it appeared that Hurricane Florence would bring dramatic rains and storm surge to the region.
Some 245,000 people were subject to the evacuation order. Authorities did not check to see how many residents complied, but said earlier this week that traffic out of Hampton Roads was running 20 percent heavier than normal.
Now that the hurricane has made landfall farther south than some models had predicted, state officials have scaled back their forecast for coastal Virginia.
However, as forecasts now suggest that the storm will being moving inland and north, “we are shifting our focus to the expected inland flooding and damage to Southwest Virginia,” Northam said.
In addition, Virginia is evaluating what resources it could divert to North and South Carolina as those areas take the brunt of the storm, Northam said.