Poll indicates coastal residents unprepared for storms

Hurricanes may flood entire cities, rip off roofs and level trees every year, but when it comes to overcoming public apathy, they're stunningly powerless.

Two-thirds of residents in Florida and other coastal states feel no threat from storms. More than half don't have a hurricane survival kit or know whether their homeowner's insurance covers storm damage.

Those are some of the key findings from a new poll to be released Thursday at Florida International University in Miami.

The six-month hurricane season starts Monday, but the Mason-Dixon poll of residents from Maine to Texas found that most remain unprepared, even unconcerned, about a strike from a major hurricane.

"It seems Americans need an urgent reminder every year about something that we ought to get by now," said Ron Sachs, a Tallahassee-based media consultant who is national coordinator for the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, which commissioned the poll. "It's not called the mean season for nothing."

The initiative, a coalition of government and relief organizations and corporations that promote hurricane awareness and safety planning, will release the complete poll at FIU's International Hurricane Research Center.

It shows that while the number of hurricanes has jumped upward over the last decade, public preparation has not followed course.

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