JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An AAA survey released Monday -- the first day of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season -- finds that 42 percent of Florida and Georgia residents do not make advanced preparations for tropical weather.
Colorado State University predicts a below-average hurricane season with seven named storms, three hurricanes, and one major hurricane this year. But even if a named storm caused evacuation warnings, 18 percent of residents say they would not leave their homes. Of those who would evacuate, 49 percent say they would only leave for a category three hurricane or greater.
"People here probably don't take them seriously because we just get tropical storms and we get flooding and stuff like that," said Gloria White, who recently moved to Jacksonville from south Florida. "They haven't really experienced an Andrew or a Katrina and, like I said, both of them really affected me."
AAA is concerned that so many residents have not made any preparations for the tropical season.
"Residents should stay vigilant and be prepared for a major weather event," said Gene Calkins, vice president of AAA Insurance Agency. "Part of that preparation includes having a storm kit, evacuation plan, and proper insurance coverage, which includes flood insurance. Every home is in a flood zone, whether you live near the coast or not."
Floods are the No. 1 disaster in the United States. Homes in low risk zones account for nearly 20 percent of flood claims every year. Just two inches of water in a 2,000 square foot home, can cause as much as $21,000 or more in damage. However, only one in five residents in Florida and Georgia have flood insurance, which is separate from homeowners insurance. A preferred risk flood insurance policy costing 85 cents a day will cover $100,000 in structural damage and $40,000 for damage to contents inside the home.
"The majority of residents in the southern U.S. do not know there is normally a 30-day waiting period for a new flood policy to take effect," Calkins said. "If you wait until a storm is named and heading your direction, you will be too late. Now is a great time to check with your insurance agent to ensure you are covered before the busy storm season begins."
AAA offers these hurricane preparation tips:
- Secure your home: Inspect your home for minor repairs needed to roof, windows, down spouts, etc. Trim trees or bushes that could cause damage to your home in case of high winds.
- Make a plan: Develop a Family Emergency Plan to include ways to contact each other, alternative meeting locations, and an out-of-town contact person. Identify a safe room or safest areas in your home. Research your evacuation route. Be sure and include plans for your pets.
- Take inventory: Update your home inventory by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, when purchased and model and serial numbers as available.
- Stock emergency supplies: Plan for a week's worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure and have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries, diapers, etc. You may also want to prepare a portable kit and keep in your car should you evacuate.
- Protect your property: Review your homeowners insurance with your insurance agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. Be aware that flood insurance in not typically covered under your homeowners policy. Flooding to your automobile is available under the physical damage coverage.