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Survey: Florida Residents More Concerned for Hurricane Season Amid Pandemic

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Source: Insurance Journal

As Florida gets ready to officially start hurricane season, a new survey shows a majority of residents are more concerned for this year’s potential storms than in previous years, given the simultaneous continuing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a new survey of 1,500 Floridians conducted by the statewide hurricane safety initiative, Get Ready, Florida!, 51% of respondents said they are more concerned about hurricane season this year than in previous years because of the pandemic situation versus 45% who said the current situation made no difference.

A total of 73% of respondents are concerned about potential hurricanes in general this year, with 24% of respondents indicating they very concerned and 48% saying they are somewhat concerned. Just 28% of survey participants said they are not too concerned (24%) or not at all concerned (4%).

The majority of respondents (91%) said they had at least one concern for the upcoming storm season, including:

  • 62% of respondents cited more strain on first responders
  • 58% said business closures or more hits to the economy
  • 43% said fewer shelters open due to social distancing
  • 39% said they were not sure where it would be safe to evacuate to
  • 35% cited caring for elderly or special needs relatives
  • 30% said being able to afford supplies 30%

“COVID-19 has created a very real, sustained sense of anxiety, and that’s even before the wild card of a major hurricane,” said Jay Neal, President and CEO of the FAIR Foundation and a Get Ready, Florida! partner. “Add hurricane season to the uncertainty of the pandemic and you introduce another set of serious issues to worry about.”

Get Ready, Florida! said uncertainty about where and how to evacuate or find shelter may aggravate an existing problem – the tendency of many Floridians to ignore evacuation recommendations or wait until the last minute. According to the survey, nearly half (47%) of Floridians report that they have stayed where they live through a storm despite recommendations to evacuate.

“Social distancing will change the way we shelter people in a hurricane, without a doubt,” said Craig Fugate, former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “For instance, everyone should add masks to their family hurricane kit. But if you’re told to evacuate, you still need to heed those orders and get out to a safer place.”

The economic strain of COVID-19 may also leave some Floridians less prepared for hurricane season. In addition to the 30% who worry about their ability to afford supplies, about 25% say they have put off needed home repairs due to COVID-19.

Many Floridians continue to lack essential safety knowledge needed for hurricane season. For instance, when asked where it’s safe to use a generator, 27% cite an unsafe spot, including a balcony or garage.

Still, many respondents said (23%) said they feel they are more prepared this year than in previous years while 59% reported there’s no difference.

And despite their concerns about the pandemic, 78% of respondents said they are confident in Florida’s emergency preparedness and emergency response to hurricanes.

Get Ready, Florida! is an annual statewide public education campaign working to educate Floridians about hurricane preparedness and safety as part of the National Hurricane Survival Initiative. The survey of 1,500 Florida voters was conducted by Sachs Media Group on May 21-22, 2020, with a margin of error +/- 2.2% at the 95% confidence level. Respondents were selected and invited to participate through a random sample of the Florida Voter File.

Full Get Ready Florida! 2020 Survey Results

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