Most Floridians are concerned about this year’s hurricane season, according to a recently released survey from the University of South Florida. But, are they prepared?
USF’s School of Public Affairs created the survey to measure the preparedness of Floridians for natural disasters, while also examining the impact of COVID-19 on household readiness.
The survey found that while a large majority of Floridians are worried about this upcoming hurricane season (81%), most also considered themselves prepared (78%). And, 81% of respondents said their household would be either severely or somewhat affected by a category 3 or higher storm.
But, despite the majority of Floridians feeling prepared for the upcoming season, more than half (58%) do not have an evacuation plan or hurricane-specific preparedness items, like a NOAA weather radio (57%) or a stocked emergency kit (51%).
Most respondents (73%) did say they would likely evacuate if an order was issued. As for reasons to not evacuate, respondents cited safety of property (76%) and concerns about being able to return quickly after the storm (78%). Other evacuation decisions are based on owning pets (50%) and concerns about personal comfort (72%).
About two-thirds of respondents said they don’t trust the safety of public shelters, which factors into why respondents may decide not to evacuate.
The response to COVID-19 has impacted some Floridians’ confidence in government — less than a quarter (22%) of respondents said they had more confidence, while 29% had less confidence and 49% said their confidence was unchanged.
And, the virus still remains a concern weighing into whether to go to a shelter despite the overall decline of COVID-19 cases. More than half of Floridians (52%) cite concerns about contracting the illness at a public shelter.
Evacuating is also a financial concern, with half of Floridians reporting a lack of financial resources as a reason for not evacuating. In addition, 43% reported having less than $1,000 saved to cover unexpected emergency expenses.
Nearly a third (29%) of Floridians would not evacuate or go to a shelter due to caring for children or other dependents, such as elderly family members or those with special needs.
The study included a representative sample of 600 Floridians, surveyed June 3-14. Results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/-4%.