1 out of 4 Floridians would ignore hurricane evacuation warnings, survey says

With the Atlantic hurricane season at Florida's doorstep, a new survey revealed that while more Sunshine State residents are growing concerned about this year's season, there is still a large number of those who do not have an emergency plan, according to AAA.

The survey conducted by the agency showed 1 out of 4 Floridians would ignore hurricane evacuation warnings while 60% would leave for a hurricane that is at least a Category 3.

A further breakdown shows:

  • 27% of Floridians are more concerned about this year’s hurricane season (5 percentage points more) than last year.
  • 29% do not make advanced preparations for hurricane season or severe weather.
  • 44% do not have an evacuation plan.

Furthermore, high gas prices also appear to be a factor. According to AAA, 2 out of 5 respondents – which is about 42% – said high gas prices and availability o gas would make them less willing to evacuate their home if it was recommended. 

LINK: Track the tropics on MyFOXHurricane.com

"Prices at the pump are likely to remain high throughout the summer," said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. "So, if you’re worried about evacuation costs, it may be a good idea to start setting aside some money now."

AAA also noted that 25% of Floridians would ignore evacuation warnings altogether. The top reasons people say they would stay home are:

  • Can’t bring pets/don’t have a safe option for them (30%)
  • Don’t know where to go (28%)
  • In case there’s damage to my home/property that I can fix (25%)
  • Financial reasons (e.g. can’t afford a hotel – 23%)

READ: Pinellas County updates evacuation zones for nearly 48,000 households ahead of hurricane season

The company suggests the following to prepare for a storm:

  • Review your Insurance Coverage. Review your homeowners insurance with your licensed insurance agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. 
  • Get Flood Insurance. Flood damage is not covered under your homeowner’s policy. There is a 30-day waiting period for new flood policies. So, do not wait until a storm is approaching. 
  • Review your auto policy. Do you have comprehensive coverage? Storm damage to your car is not automatically covered by your homeowner’s policy. Comprehensive coverage is not required in Florida, but would help if your vehicle is damaged by hail, is flooded, or a tree falls on it.
  • Store your insurance policy number and claim phone number in your phone in case you need to make a claim after the storm.
  • Take Inventory. Document your belongings by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, purchase date, and model and serial numbers.
  • Store important documents in a portable waterproof container. Documents could include birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policy information, and more. 

This year, NOAA is once again predicting an above-average number of named storms. Forecasters from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center are predicting 14 to 21 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes and 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). These numbers are greater than the 30-year averages (1991-2020) of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

FOX Weather Meteorologist Mike Rawlins explains the increased activity this season is tied to the ongoing La Niña that will continue through the hurricane season.

"In the Atlantic, warmer than average temperatures in the water here usually means more storms," Rawlins said.

FOX Weather Meteorologist Ian Oliver said the outlook is a reminder to prepare because it's too early to tell where storms will make landfall. 

"Although this outlook suggests a lot of tropical activity, seasonal outlooks don't forecast where these storms could eventually strike or how many landfalls could occur," Oliver said.

Florida's two-week disaster-preparedness tax holiday began Saturday, May 28. For the first time, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on numerous types of pet supplies. The holiday was part of a broad tax package (HB 7071) that lawmakers passed in March and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on May 6.

At the request of a Girl Scout Troop 60601 in Palm Harbor, lawmakers agreed to lift sales taxes during the holiday on pet carriers that cost $100 or less; pet beds that cost $40 or less; bags of pet food that cost $30 or less; bags of cat litter that cost $25 or less; leashes, collars, and muzzles that sell for $20 or less; packages of pet-waste disposable bags that cost $15 or less; and cans of pet food that cost $2 or less.

The overall tax holiday, which will last through June 10, is geared toward the June 1 start of hurricane season. It has become a regular tax break for Floridians, similar to a back-to-school tax holiday held around the start of the school year.

Pet supplies aren’t the only new items included in this year’s disaster-preparedness holiday. Lawmakers added smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors that cost $70 or less amid calls for residents to safely use generators. Also, people can avoid paying sales taxes on generators that cost $1,000 or less.