TAMPA, Fla. (June 22, 2021) – Researchers with the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs have released results from a statewide survey that measures the preparedness of Floridians for disasters and the impact of COVID-19 on their household readiness.
Among the key findings:
Most Floridians are concerned about this year’s hurricane season and consider themselves prepared to face a storm. Among Floridians, a large majority (81%) are very or somewhat concerned about this year’s hurricane season, with 81.2% stating that their household would be severely or somewhat affected by a category 3 or higher storm. More than 3/4 consider their household very (18.3%) or somewhat (59.8%) prepared for this hurricane season.
Despite concerns about the hurricane season, more than half of Floridians do not have an evacuation plan or hurricane-specific preparedness items. Although most survey respondents (72.6%) said they would be very or somewhat likely to leave if an evacuation order was issued, more than half (58%) do not have an evacuation plan. Over half do not have hurricane-specific preparedness items like a NOAA weather radio (56.8%) or a stocked emergency kit (51%).
Fears over the safety of property left behind and the inability to return home after a storm top the list of reasons that Floridians would choose not to evacuate. In the event of a category 3 or higher hurricane, Floridians listed safety of property (76.2%) and concerns over being able to return quickly after the storm (78%) as reasons why they would not evacuate or go to a shelter. Other reasons include owning pets (50.5%) and concerns over personal comfort (72%) as factors impacting their evacuation decisions.
A majority of Floridians do not trust the safety of public shelters. In the event of a hurricane, 67.7% of Floridians do not trust the safety of public shelters, citing this concern as a factor for deciding not to evacuate if threatened by a category 3 or higher storm.
Half of Floridians report a lack of financial resources as a reason for not evacuating. Over half of Floridians said that finances would impact their decision to evacuate a lot (20%) or a little (30.5%) if a category 3 or higher storm threatened their community. In addition, 42.8% reported having less than $1,000 to cover unexpected emergency expenses.
Nearly a third of Floridians would not evacuate or go to a shelter due to caring for children or other dependents. Nearly a third (29.3%) of respondents said that caring for children or other dependents, such as elderly family members or those with special needs, would impact their decision to not evacuate or go to a shelter if threatened by a category 3 or higher storm.
Floridians are split on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic response on their confidence in government. The government response to the COVID-19 pandemic had mixed impacts on Floridians’ trust and confidence in the government. Less than a quarter (22.3%) of respondents said they had more confidence, while 29% had less confidence and 48.7% reported that their confidence was unchanged.
For many Floridians, COVID-19 remains a main factor in deciding whether to go to a shelter. Despite a decrease in COVID-19 rates statewide, over half of Floridians (52.3%) cite concerns about contracting the illness at a public shelter, listing these fears as a reason for not evacuating if their community was threatened by a hurricane.
In an emergency, the majority of Floridians prefer text message alerts over social media and other traditional means of communication. Despite a rise in social media usage by government officials, most Floridians (61.2%) prefer text message alerts, listing it as the preferred method for receiving emergency updates. The second most preferred method was television (23.5%), followed by radio (8.5%) and social media (3.8%).
The survey included a representative sample of 600 Floridians, fielded June 3-14, 2021. Results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/-4 %.
The complete survey results can be found here.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.