There's been a lot of waiting leading up to Hurricane Dorian, but now Volusia officials are urging residents to wait a little bit longer while they check conditions in the county post-storm.

It’s been a long week for Volusia and Flagler residents, characterized mostly by waiting for Hurricane Dorian to arrive in the area. But with the storm finally heading away from our shores instead of toward them, that doesn’t mean the waiting is over.

Instead, a new period of waiting will begin while emergency personnel and public works employees fan out into the community, assess any damage and begin the necessary repairs. By Wednesday morning, bridges were already open and shelters were getting ready to close in Volusia County.

[READ MORE: Hurricane Dorian: Volusia-Flagler residents try to be productive during wait for storm]

But how do you know when it’s really safe to go outside? When can you drive on the roads? When can you return home, if you evacuated?

It depends on the area and the concern, but here’s what we know about how everything is going to get back to normal after Hurricane Dorian.

Safe to come out?

Volusia County Emergency Management Chief Jim Judge said Tuesday it should be safe for residents to leave their homes by 6 p.m. Wednesday night, but it depends on conditions. Even when the storm is over, there could potentially be debris and live power lines to account for.

He said the county would announce when it's all clear and safe after public safety personnel have checked conditions in the area.

“It may be 8 or 9 p.m (Wednesday) night. By Thursday morning, absolutely,” Judge said, adding that he's encouraging residents to continue to practice patience. "We've all got hurricane fatigue, we've been watching that thing move now forever. But we still need some patience."

On Wednesday morning, the county announced that coastal areas can expect sustained tropical storm force winds until about 4 p.m. this afternoon, and emergency personnel were already conducting visual inspections throughout the county.

Being careful

Emergency management officials in Volusia urge residents to stay put while crews work to clear hazards from roadways and property.

When you do venture out, be cautious of debris and damage that could seriously harm you if you come in contact with it. Look for nails and broken glass where you're walking. Watch out for animals like snakes, rodents, fire ants and scorpions that may have been displaced from the storm.

Avoid stepping in pooled water where you can’t see to bottom — it could be much deeper than it appears, there could be debris below the surface or there could be sewage or chemicals in the water. Don’t step in flowing water, as even six inches can knock you off your feet.

[HURRICANE DORIAN CANCELLATIONS: School, entertainment, government]

Downed power lines pose a huge threat to people who come out after a storm. Electrical currents can travel through water, and the lines are often hidden in debris. Electrocution is a major cause of death during storms and their aftermath.

In Volusia, report property damage or infrastructure problems to the Citizens Information Center at 866-345-0345.

Evacuees returning home

About 1,800 people sheltered in Volusia County schools and many more likely fled the area after the county issued mandatory evacuation orders for beachside residents. Shelters will close in Volusia at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Only the shelter at the Volusia County Fairgrounds will remain open.

The county also closed bridges when the sustained wind speed hits 39 mph. It will not open the bridges until wind speeds drop below 39 mph, and officials from the Florida Department of Transportation have checked the bridges to make sure they’re structurally sound.

By Wednesday morning all bridges over the Halifax River that were closed Tuesday night due to high winds have been reopened, said Volusia County Sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Gant. This includes the Granada Bridge in Ormond Beach and the Dunlawton Bridge in Port Orange. The International Speedway Boulevard Bridge and the Seabreeze Bridge in Daytona Beach are both limited access at the discretion of law enforcement.

From there, individual cities are responsible for managing re-entry to the beachside. In Daytona Beach, for example, residents will need to provide a photo ID that shows they live in the area they’re trying to access; those who are trying to get to a business will have to provide some sort of documentation that shows they work there. Contact your city to find out more.

Be aware that there is a curfew in Volusia County that applies to any area east of the Halifax River on Tuesday night and Wednesday night. The curfew extends from 6 p.m. each night to 6 a.m. the following morning. In Flagler, the curfew started at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and extends until further notice.

Flagler officials will lift evacuation orders when they're sure conditions are safe.

School openings

About a dozen public schools across Volusia and Flagler counties are being used as temporary shelters for residents who had to evacuate their homes before the storm. It’s going to take some time to get those facilities, in particular, ready for students again.

[HURRICANE DORIAN: Elderly and special needs guests settle in at Creekside Middle]

Once the storm passes, it will take at least a day for evacuees to clear out of the shelters and to get them cleaned. At the same time, Volusia staff will be assessing damage at each campus in the district, and beginning the process of removing debris and making sure schools are accessible.

“We will try and get everything done within a day if we receive minimum damage from any storm,” said Greg Akin, chief operating officer for Volusia Schools. But it can take more than that depending on the conditions after the storm.

As of Wednesday morning, schools in Volusia and Flagler were planning to reopen on Friday.

Power outages

No matter how favorable the conditions end up being in the area, there are likely to be power outages.

Power outages peaked in Volusia and Flagler counties on Wednesday morning at 5 a.m., with 5,500 outages.

FPL had 17,000 workers waiting to respond to Hurricane Dorian, and Duke Energy reported 6,500 workers ready to respond to Florida specifically.

To help quicken the process, FPL asks that people not approach workers if they see them in their area to ask how long it will be before power is restored. To check for outages or report one, visit FPL’s website here and Duke Energy’s here.

Staff writer Dustin Wyatt contributed to this story.