TAMPA, Fla. — Hurricane season officially kicks off tomorrow, June 1, and AAA said a new survey shows that a large number of Floridians don't have an emergency plan.
According to AAA, one in four Floridians would ignore hurricane evacuation warnings, while 60% would leave for a Category 3 or stronger.
Based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, a hurricane is considered a "major" storm when it reaches Category 3 and higher. A hurricane reaches Category 3 strength when sustained winds are 111mph.
However, AAA said the survey shows that more Floridians are concerned about this year's hurricane season than last year. According to a press release, 27% of Floridians are concerned which is up 5% from 2021.
The survey also found that 29% of Floridians don't make advanced preparations for the season or severe weather and 44% don't have an evacuation plan.
“When a hurricane approaches, things can get chaotic, but developing a plan now will help alleviate some of the stress,” Jennifer Pintacuda, President of AAA’s Florida-based insurance companies. “AAA urges residents to review their insurance policies, document belongings, gather supplies, and develop a family plan in case they need to evacuate.”
Again this year, NOAA foresees an above-average season, with officials predicting between 14-21 named storms. In 2021 we had 21 named storms, and in 2020 we had a record-breaking 30 named storms.
The season was so active that it blew through the list of storm names and used the Greek alphabet a record-breaking nine times to name storms. Before that, it had only been used in 2005.
Due to that record-breaking number, meteorologists eliminated the Greek alphabet as the backup if there are more than 21 storms and instead came up with a supplemental list.
According to AAA, higher gas prices are starting to factor into people's hesitation to evacuate. The survey also found that storm strength, pets and property damage factor into people's decision to leave during a storm.
AAA said the top reasons people cited for staying home are:
- Can’t bring pets/don’t have a safe option for them (30%)
- Don’t know where to go (28%)
- In case there’s damage to my home/property that I can fix (25%)
- Financial reasons (e.g. can’t afford a hotel – 23%)
AAA said the survey found that 25% of Floridians said they would ignore evacuation warnings altogether.
AAA insurance experts offered the following advice to prepare for storm season.
- Review your Insurance Coverage. Review your homeowners insurance with your licensed insurance agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles.
- Get Flood Insurance. Flood damage is not covered under your homeowner’s policy. There is a 30-day waiting period for new flood policies. So, do not wait until a storm is approaching.
- Review your auto policy. Do you have comprehensive coverage? Storm damage to your car is not automatically covered by your homeowner’s policy. Comprehensive coverage is not required in Florida, but would help if your vehicle is damaged by hail, is flooded, or a tree falls on it.
- Store your insurance policy number and claim phone number in your phone in case you need to make a claim after the storm.
- Take Inventory. Document your belongings by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, purchase date, and model and serial numbers.
- Store important documents in a portable waterproof container. Documents could include birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policy information, and more.
AAA also stressed the importance of flood insurance. According to a press release, the two biggest sources of hurricane damage are wind and torrential rain which results in flooding.
“Unfortunately, many homeowners do not realize until it’s too late that their homeowners’ policy does not cover flooding,” Pintacuda said. “We encourage residents to look into a flood policy now. There’s a 30-day waiting period for all new flood insurance policies. So if you wait until a storm is approaching, it will be too late.”