Survey Reveals Citizen Response to Hurricane Michael
The Florida Department of Health went door-to-door to conduct an interesting survey in Bay and Gulf Counties. The department was seeking information about how residents responded to Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane that struck Florida in 2018.
Michael caused considerable damage in the Florida Panhandle—about $25 billion all told in property damage—and many people are still struggling with the effects. Bay County in particular was devastated—around 45,000 buildings were damaged and another 1,500 were destroyed outright.
The Florida Department of Health conducted the survey in October and November 2019, about a year after Michael landed. The results show that most people did not evacuate during the storm but that few suffered any injuries.
Most Respondents Did Not Evacuate Before Storm Hit
The Department of Health interviewed 152 people in Bay County and 26 in Gulf county to compile the information. They found that only 43% of people evacuated their homes before the storm hit. Another 14% evacuated their homes after Hurricane Michael landed, but a total of 42% did not evacuate at all.
Of those who evacuated, almost 4 in 10 went to stay with friends or family living nearby. Another 1 in 4 went to stay with people somewhere else. Another 5% reported going somewhere else when evacuating.
Those who refused to evacuate had different reasons for staying put and trying to ride out the storm. About 24% of them said they did not see any reason to leave—a serious mistake, given Michael’s power. About 18% said they did not have enough time to evacuate but possibly would have, and around 7% said they feared falling victim to theft.
Interestingly, about 10% decided to stay home to be with their pets. This confirms how important it is for shelters to take animals so that people will feel comfortable leaving their homes when a Category 5 hurricane is racing ashore.
Repairs Are Going Slowly
The Department also asked questions to determine whether those who suffered damage had performed repairs. They found that the majority of people reported that their homes were only “somewhat” repaired. About 27% had fully repaired their homes. An alarming 2% reported that their homes had not been repaired at all. As we know from other media reports, hundreds of people continue to live in trailers provided by the federal government because they have lost their homes and have nowhere else to go.
Injuries Post-Cleanup were Surprisingly Common
A large majority—4 in 5—did not suffer any injury because of Hurricane Michael. However, about 17% reported being injured during cleanup following the storm. This confirms that people need to be careful in the days after a storm. Buildings can be weakened and at risk of collapsing, just as trees could fall. There are many ways to be injured when cleaning up property, so caution is always warranted.
By contrast, only around 2% were injured during the storm itself. This is remarkable given the widespread property destruction we saw in Bay County.
Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A. Can Help with Property Damage Claims
Negotiating a claim after a storm is difficult. Many insurers fight tooth and nail to minimize payments, forcing many homeowners to fix their properties out of their own pocket.
If you have an insurance dispute after a hurricane or other storm, please contact the Daytona Beach hurricane insurance claims lawyers at Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A. today for a free consultation.