Low income, minority, older populations among those more vulnerable to storms

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hurricane season is underway, and it’s crucial to know what you’re going to do when a storm hits because it’s just a matter of time.

“What you need to be concerned with right now is making sure that you have a plan,” said Kevin Guthrie, executive director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management.

But characteristics like gender, low income and language barriers can make people more vulnerable to a storm.

Vulnerability is greater among people at age extremes (young and old), with low incomes, members of minority populations, and those with special health or medical needs.

It affects their access to information and other resources.

But Florida emergency officials say the state is ready.

“I’m confident today to say that all 67 counties have a plan in place for whatever hazard they’re going to face,” Guthrie said.

There are key questions to ask yourself when it comes to planning for a storm.

“What’s your communication plan going to be? What’s your food plan going to be? Where are you going to go if you need help?” Guthrie said.

Guthrie, who lived in Jacksonville for 24 years, said it’s a misconception that hurricanes can’t hit the area.

“That is a false sense of security,” he said. “Don’t think that we’re in this bend, it’s not going to affect us here. Hurricanes Donna, David, Dora -- three hurricanes that impacted the First Coast significantly.”

It’s also worth noting that housing built before 1990 is highly susceptible to hurricane damage.