TAMPA -- Nearly half of Floridians in a new survey by the University of South Florida say they're less likely to evacuate during a hurricane because of COVID-19. Almost three quarters of those surveyed say they're less likely to go to a hurricane shelter.
These are some of the findings from a survey of 600 Floridians on hurricane preparedness during the pandemic.
On the question of going to a shelter, 71 percent of those surveyed say they're less likely to go to a shelter, five percent say they're more likely, and 24 percent aren't sure. 47 percent say COVID-19 wouldn't affect their decision to evacuate, while 44 percent say they'd be less likely to go. 9 percent say they would be more likely to follow an evacuation order.
"People are already planning ahead to ignore evacuation orders," says Dr. Christa Remington, Ph.D., of the USF School of Public Affairs, who calls that concerning. Remington says it's bad news and good news, because people are communicating an ability to get by for a short time without the government's help.
Most Floridians say COVID-19 has not made them less prepared for an emergency. 48 percent say it didn't affect household readiness, and 36.5% say they're more prepared... leaving 15.5% saying they're less prepared because of the pandemic.
That's in spite of the pandemic's effect on jobs and finances. "There's a lot of overlap being prepared to stay home and self-quarantine, and being ready to stay home after a hurricane," Remington said. "Most people (have) food, water and medications already stored up."
Other findings from the survey: 79% of Floridians say they could manage the first three days after a hurricane without assistance. Only half of Floridians have an emergency or hurricane kit, and 37% of Floridians say they don't have at least $1,000 available to cover an unexpected emergency.
The USF survey was conducted July 30 - August 10.
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