Study: Too many people ignore storm evacuation orders

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – With the 2019 hurricane season starting Saturday, new survey data shows many Floridians don’t take evacuation orders seriously. That could be a deadly mistake.

With the memory of Michael, Harvey, Irma and Maria fresh in our minds, most would assume people would leave, when ordered to do so.

When a tropical storm whips up into a major hurricane, evacuation orders are sent out to protect lives.

A new Auto Club survey shows 92 percent of Floridians are worried about this season, up 19 percent from last year.

The Harbor Lights Club mobile home park sits at sea level.  Resident Kevin Grondahl is not sticking around if a hurricane warning is issued. “I’m living in a mobile home park 55 and older. And I’m telling you, I’m leaving. It’s just that simple. I mean you got to. You got to take this stuff serious,” said Krondahl.

But that feeling is not universal. The survey shows, if a named storm poses a threat, 79 percent would evacuate. But of those, only 62 percent said they would only leave for a Category 3 storm or higher.

“No matter the strength of the storm, whether it’s a tropical storm or a category 1,2,3,4,5, evacuate if you have to, especially if you’re in a zone A,” warned Storm Team 8 Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve.

Stay behind, and you risk your life, and others. 

“It’s stupid.  You gotta leave.  Because, what if something happens?  Then you got to jeopardize the lives of EMS that come out and the rescue workers,” said mobile home resident, Nick Sprada.

The new survey findings indicate a willingness to take a chance for storms packing winds of up to 110 miles per hour.

“If you get that word from your local EOC to evacuate, you should do it immediately, and you should have that plan in place well ahead of time,” said Steve Jerve.

Another survey finding shows 73 percent of Floridians don’t have flood insurance.

And you can’t add one at the last minute. There is a 30-day waiting period before a policy goes into effect.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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