Many Floridians may ride out hurricanes due to pandemic
A new survey by AAA finds 42 percent of Floridians say they’re less likely to evacuate this hurricane season due to fear of the coronavirus.
“Unfortunately you have a lot of people who just don't want to evacuate. They want to stay home. They feel like they can protect their belongings and you just can't get them to leave despite official warnings, things like that. And now you add to that concerns about coronavirus,” said Mike Jenkins with AAA.
The survey also found three out of ten Floridians won’t evacuate even if ordered to.
"It's a deadly call to make,” said former FEMA Director Craig Fugate.
Fugate told us pandemic or no pandemic, people need to heed evacuation orders.
“If you're in the evacuation zone, move to higher ground,” said Fugate.
The messaging from state officials is essentially the same as past years, but they are warning against unnecessary evacuations, like when millions took to the highways to escape Hurricane Irma.
“If your home is a newer home, if your home is safe, stay home. Get ready. Stay off the roads,” said Fugate.
For those who do need to seek shelter, 200 hotels have offered their rooms to evacuees to provide for adequate social distancing.
Shelters are also being told to screen evacuees for COVD-19.
"And taking those steps to identify people who may be at risk, may have been exposed and get them into isolation,” said Fugate.
And the former FEMA director says now is the time to prepare.
Hurricane supplies are tax free through June 4th.
Fugate also recommends adding gloves, hand sanitizer and masks to your hurricane supply kit this year.
Those items however are not covered under the tax-free holiday.
Florida’s Emergency Management Director announced last week the state had a stockpile of 10 million masks, 5 million gloves and 1 million face shields.
The state has also entered into an agreement for 12 million additional face masks to help with shelter operations.