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USF researchers release survey results on hurricane preparedness

Posted at 4:45 PM, Jun 22, 2021

TAMPA, Fla.— — When a storm hits, you need to be ready for whatever comes your way. Researchers with the University of South Florida released findings from a survey, measuring the preparedness of Floridians for disasters and the impact of COVID-19 on their household readiness.

“We found that most Floridians are concerned about the hurricane season, and they think that they’re taking it seriously,” said Christa Remington, an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the University of South Florida. “Most people think that they could last three days without water or electricity in the case of a Category 3 or higher storm.”

Remington is one of the researchers behind the survey. What they found is while people have food, water, and medication, Remington says the preparedness really stops there, and people might be confusing pandemic preparedness for hurricane readiness.

“I just really think that it’s important that people understand that they might feel ready because they’ve stayed home over the past year, but in reality when a hurricane hits, they don’t have what they need to safely navigate,” said Remington.

The survey found 58 percent of respondents do not have an evacuation plan, and over half don’t have hurricane-specific items like a NOAA weather radio or a stocked emergency kit.

The findings also showed despite a drop in COVID-19 rates statewide, more than half of Floridians cite concerns about contracting the illness at a public shelter.

“We are prepared for COVID protocols in our sheltering, in our locations,” said Joe Borries, the Operations Manager for Pinellas County Emergency Management.

Borries says with shelters if you’re concerned, bring a mask and sanitizer, and he says they will also follow social distancing as much as they can. He suggests that slowly adding to hurricane kits over time can help, explaining it’s not too late to be prepared.

“We’re hoping for none, but it only takes one,” said Borries. “You want to be prepared for that one by making a plan and knowing where you’re going to go and where you’re going to stay.”