Why don’t people evacuate during a hurricane warning?

It's a question that even has emergency officials scratching their heads. If you're warned to evacuate during a storm, why would you stay?

"Yeah, that's something that we are constantly trying to assess and figure out so we can tailor our messaging towards those people," said Katja Miller, the operations section chief with Hillsborough Emergency Management Operations.

One reason may be complacency.

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"This hasn't happened or they've warned us about this before and it hasn't come. It's then turned. So it's not going to be too bad or even the comparison to prior storms when they've decided to ride it out and they've seen the impacts and think that that's something that they can deal with and survive," Miller explained.

Couple walking through flood waters.

Another reason could be a lack of understanding. 

"What does it mean when we tell somebody to expect up to 15 feet of storm surge? What does that impact look like? What does up to 200-mile-per-hour winds look like? And what does that do to your property? It's not something I think that a lot of people are familiar with, and it's hard to imagine those things if you haven't seen it in real life. And sometimes even images of what they see on the news don't really equate to really what that looks like in person," stated Miller.

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The older population may not be aware of the resources that are available right at their fingertips.

"You know, grandmother and grandfather. They may not be very tech-savvy. They may not understand where they can go to learn the information that they need to know. So help them out. Sit next to them. Show them on your phone or your computer where they can go to look up their evacuation zone so they know what that is explaining to them, what that means," said Miller.

Evacuation map of Bay Area.

Evacuation map of Bay Area. 

Some people may stay because of their pets or if they have special needs.

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"We have eight general population shelters available here in Hillsborough County, all of which that are pet friendly," Miller shared. "And then our special needs shelters as well. We have a total of six of those here in the county. Each one of those are also pet friendly. And so there are plenty of areas where if a shelter is what their plan is, that they're able to bring the pet with them. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that the pet is going to be with them in the same location. They're going to be in a separate area of the shelter that's specific for the pets. But again, it's better than staying at their home and being unsafe."

Dog riding through flood waters on cooler.

Dog riding through flood waters on cooler. 

So keep this in mind if you get that order to evacuate.

"You want to run from the water," Miller explained. "So if you are in any of those evacuation zones that local officials are calling to evacuate, it's very important for them to heed that."

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The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30.

Stay updated at MyFoxHurricane.com to see the latest maps, models and forecasts.