Welcome! I’m involved in encouraging our local mesh network to grow in Central Illinois (Urbana). It’s a bit far afield from the East Coast, but my retired Navy in-laws live near Smithfield, just not quite to the area you describe, but in the same metro area.
When we first drove out there, I asked my wife about the somewhat unusual gating system, mostly along one side of the highway. Turns out, when a hurricane warning is issued the emergency management folks declare one-way traffic and the gates make sure that happens as people evacuate inland away from the potential for vast coastal flooding and other damage.
It’s a vast land composed of waterways and low-lying land, with swampy or tidal lands in between in many places.
In other words, ideal for goTenna Mesh to be an adjunct to official emergency communications, for personal emergency planning, and as something so useful people will keep it around when there’s no emergency. Being readily at hand and familiar already are great benefits to their use when things are stressful or even scary. But if you’ve already used the goTenna for everything from shopping to fishing, it’s easy to see how incredibly vital a goTenna Mesh could be in life-threatening emergencies.
That low lying land I remember would mean getting a little height for a stationary node could pay off some real benefits in average range for networks there. Roof level at many homes would probably work quite well.
If enough stationary nodes were in place, a project that simple publicity might encourage into being, but which would cost very little for a great deal of functionality if supported by local units of government who might also find day to day benefits like fire departments, rescue squads, and towing companies, could greatly facilitate these evacuations.
A hurricane evacuation would almost certainly swamp the cell network most of the time and power outages could compound the problem. If the stationary nodes placed online were solar powered, which I and other here have written up doing with easily obtained and reliable components, they would largely remain on the air. With an upcoming design change that will enable stationary nodes to restart without human intervention after total power loss, surviving nodes could be waiting for people to return and support the repair of infrastructure like cell towers and power grid with minimal support needed at that crucial period of recovery.
I think you’ve found a great solution for common local problems. Spread the word and good luck!