It is stunning that the latest poll on hurricane preparedness found so few people mindful of the storm season that begins June 1. Even given a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, the survey's results are troubling.
The Mason-Dixon poll found that two-thirds of the residents polled in Florida and other coastal states don't feel threatened by the hurricanes that inevitably target the U.S. mainland annually. From Maine to Texas most people simply don't see a need to prepare in advance for storm season. Some poll numbers:
• 83 percent of the respondents have taken no steps to make their homes stronger;
• 55 percent have no family-disaster plan;
• 13 percent say that they wouldn't evacuate even if ordered to do so.
These numbers must give every emergency-management chief in 18 Gulf and Atlantic coastal states catastrophic nightmares.
It is as if Hurricane Katrina never happened, even though New Orleans and Gulf communities are still rebuilding. People are still in FEMA trailers four years after the Category 3 storm struck Southeastern Louisiana Aug. 29, 2005. And yet, the storm's devastating effects, so vivid in the weeks following its landfall, now appear to have been collectively forgotten by many who could face another Katrina.
Katrina also nicked South Florida before heading to Louisiana. Nearly two months later, Hurricane Wilma, with 125-mph winds, blew across the lower peninsula, knocking out power from coast to coast. South Florida hasn't had a major storm since, but it is only a matter of time.
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