One in five Floridians said they would not evacuate their homes if a Category 3 or 4 storm was headed their way, according to new survey results revealed as Hurricane Florence heads toward the Carolinas and others churn in the Atlantic.
The results, from a 1,000-person online questionnaire commissioned by the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, suggest that residents of the state most at risk from hurricanes aren’t as prepared as they should be.
“You would think after Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria last year more people would understand what’s at stake,” Craig Fugate, former administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and former head of Florida’s emergency management division, told reporters on Monday.
The results showed that Floridians have scoffed at evacuation orders in the past and continue to plan to do so in the future. That number could be a nod to how expensive it is to evacuate — 60 percent of respondents said evacuating for Irma cost them upwards of $300. Others reported they didn’t believe the storm would be that bad, or worried about intense evacuation traffic.
“I’ve heard just about every reason for why people aren’t going to evacuate,” Fugate said. “The reality is, people who leave have more options. Those who stay behind, you may run out of options and you may run out of time.”
Results also showed a recurrence in something Fugate said he “thought we got better at.” Plenty of people still don’t understand that running a generator indoors is dangerous (and possibly fatal). Awareness of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning from indoor generator use is lowest among millennials and Northwest Florida residents.
As for storm recovery, the survey revealed most Floridians are unaware of their risk or what their insurance actually covers.
Respondents (incorrectly) guessed that homeowners insurance covered the loss of spoiled food, hotel or evacuation expenses and debris removal. None of that is covered by most standard hurricane insurance policies. In fact, all of those costs will come on top of the deductible property owners are asked to pay. Few respondents could accurately guess the average deductible, which, at $5,000, is a figure that almost 60 percent of respondents described as somewhat or very difficult or impossible to pay.
As for flood insurance, which covers the storm surge that so often accompanies hurricanes, the majority of survey takers said they don’t have it. The most popular reason being they don’t live in a flood zone.
“Floods don’t stop at a line on a map,” Michael Braun, CEO of FedNat Insurance Company, told reporters.