Will Storm Weary Floridians Not Evacuate This Time?

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With a fifth major storm now threatening the state, Florida officials are worried people may not heed orders to evacuate, but staying put could be a deadly mistake along the Atlantic coast.

Evacuations have already been suggested for residents of barrier islands, low-lying areas and mobile homes in Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin Counties. Other evacuation orders could be on the horizon.

Gov. Jeb Bush knows Floridians are sick and tired of hurricanes, but he’s warning people not to let their guard down as Hurricane Jeanne approaches from the Atlantic.

“This storm has the potential of being similar to Ivan in the strength of the winds, and storm surge is also a powerful force.”

There is a real concern that storm-weary people who’ve already evacuated at least once or twice or even three times this season will say enough is enough and not leave when the order comes. The results could be tragic.

Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate heard heartbreaking stories from 9-1-1 operators on the phone with desperate homeowners who didn’t evacuate during Ivan.

“They were sitting there, trying to talk people through the things they could do as the water came up in their homes and in a few cases, they actually lost contact and they never found out, did the people make it or not?”

Six weeks of disasters are taking a toll on emergency responders, and thousands of volunteers trying to assist survivors.

The Salvation Army’s Roy Johnson is grateful for reinforcements who’ve poured in from around the country, some of whom wanted to return kindness shown after September 11th.

“In light of our response to the 9/11 crisis, we are seeing an enormous number of folks from New York who are making that same response who have said, you helped us in our moment of need, we can do no other but to help you.”

Sadly, those needs are likely to grow as hundreds of thousands of Floridians are again told to leave their homes this weekend.