AAA survey shows only 56% of Floridians would leave for a Category 3 hurricane or higher

As hurricane season approaches, it’s important to start thinking about your family’s evacuation plan and stocking up on hurricane supplies.

AAA has released new findings from its annual hurricane season survey to help you start thinking about the potential for a big storm hitting your neighborhood.

According to the survey, about 1-in-5 Florida residents do not make advanced preparations for hurricane season or severe weather. Also concerning, 24% said they would ignore warnings to evacuate in the event of a hurricane. Of those who would evacuate, more than half said they would not leave their homes unless an approaching hurricane was a Category 3 or stronger.

News4JAX viewers weighed in on what makes them evacuate an approaching storm. Peter in St. Augustine Beach said, “Three or four, we might evacuate. But anything below that, I think we’re gonna stay home.”

Another person told us they’d have to see Jim Cantore to evacuate. Cantore is a weather reporter with the Weather Channel and is known to always be in the worst of the worst weather.

One St. Augustine Beach resident told us they leave as soon as they have first notice, because living on the coast, they are more at risk.

Why Floridians would ignore evacuation warnings according to AAA survey

  • 40% − Want to stay in case there’s damage to their home or property that they can fix.
  • 30% − Can’t bring their pets/Don’t have a safe option for them.
  • 22% − Believe the storm will turn away from their direction.
  • 18% − Don’t know where to go.
  • 17% − Fear of looting after the storm.
  • 15% − Financial reasons (e.g., can’t afford a hotel).

“Staying in the path of a potentially deadly storm is just not worth the risk,” said AAA Public Relations Manager Mark Jenkins. “Take steps now to develop an evacuation plan for your family and pets. If you’re worried about property damage, contact your insurance advisor. Having adequate coverage will give you the peace of mind in knowing that anything damaged while you’re gone can be repaired or replaced.”

CEO of Red Cross, Christian Smith, said people need to start preparing now. “When you don’t heed those local warnings, and then something does happen, then you’ve impacted the emergency services ability to come in and to provide services. That’s the most critical part. So that’s why Red Cross comes in. That’s why we open shelters. That’s why we have a safe place for families to come to, we understand it’s not ideal, we understand it’s not the most comfortable or the best place to come to. But it is designed for those that have nowhere else to go.”

Red Cross says part of the plans you make should include checking on your neighbors and see if they have a plan, can they evacuate with you, can they get to a shelter.

Also – they say take advantage of buy one get one deals on canned goods that can store for this hurricane season.

Important Steps Homeowners Should Take Right Now

  • Review your Insurance Coverage. Review your homeowner’s insurance with your licensed agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles and ensure any recent home upgrades like pools, screen enclosures, and fences are covered.
  • Store your insurance and flood policy numbers on your phone. Document your insurance provider’s phone number for filing a claim.
  • Understand the various methods for filing a claim. Find out if your provider allows you to file a claim on a website or mobile app. Doing so can speed up the filing process, as high demand can result in long wait times over the phone.
  • Take Home Inventory. Document your belongings by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including receipts, 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.

About the Authors:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad