Ignoring evacuation orders a game of chance with natural disaster
What do you call people who evacuate when given an order to do so from local emergency managers? I call them smart. Hazard-blind people may call them “sissy pants.” The fact is those who heed evacuation mandates live to call themselves whatever they want, unlike those who choose to defy evacuation orders.
We are entering peak hurricane season and are reminded once again that too many people believe their home is safe even when it isn’t. Allstate released a survey showing that more than one-in-four Americans would ignore evacuation orders. The survey found that 27 percent of the population would wait until absolutely necessary before leaving their home. The definition of “absolutely necessary” may mean they’ll wait for the eye of the hurricane to park above their home or until the flood water soaks the carpeting before deciding it might be a good idea to depart. Sigh.
Nearly half the survey respondents say they have not thought about or even discussed evacuation plans. And, 62 percent have not prepared an emergency kit. The survey was done across the U.S., but I wonder: Are Floridians above average when it comes to hurricane preparation? You would think so, but……
A statewide regional evacuation study looked at how Floridians would react in various storm threat scenarios. It shows the percentage of South Florida residents who would leave their homes is based on the category of the hurricane. For example, in Miami-Dade County, 40 percent of those living in a site-built home located in a Cat 1 surge evacuation zone would leave if a Cat 1 storm is predicted. If a Cat 5 storm is predicted, 90 percent would leave. Another way to look at it: In the area at highest risk for storm surge, with a killer storm on the way, 10 percent of the people would stay put. Why?
Behavioral studies show there is denial that something really dangerous could be unfolding close to home. Others distrust authority, so won’t evacuate just because some state expert who has been planning for the worst is telling them it is on the doorstep. Others have heard it all before, and get complacent. And, some people may actually have a death wish.
I marvel over rants dismissing the importance of hurricane preparedness. People simply don’t want to believe the historical data. They blame government for wanting to control them through mandatory evacuations. They blame weather forecasters for “crying wolf” and hyping the storm threat. They blame insurers for looking at past loss costs from natural disasters and using that to plan for the future. If they stay behind in a storm and regret it, will they blame themselves?
Please be prepared for a hurricane by reviewing your property insurance coverage. And, please know your local county evacuation zone.