How Prepared Are You For Hurricane Season?

June 23, 2020

For every $1 invested in disaster mitigation, $6 is saved in damages and repairs. This finding from the National Institute of Building Sciences underscores the importance of hurricane preparedness. 

However, we were curious if people's actual disaster preparedness matched the recommendations. 

Are people ready for a hurricane's high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, and power outages? To find out, we surveyed more than 1,000 people about how well they were prepared for the 2020 hurricane season. 

The results reveal a level of unpreparedness that could have dire consequences. 

Are People Prepared for the 2020 Hurricane Season?

To learn more about hurricane preparedness, we surveyed 1,023 people who live across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia,  Maryland, D.C., Delaware, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama.

We asked one question about their level of hurricane preparedness. Based on their responses, we found out that 59 percent of people have little to no hurricane preparation. 

How prepared are you for hurricane season

How prepared are you for hurricane season?

  • Not prepared at all (When is hurricane season?)  36.4%
  • Minimally prepared (I'm watching the news): 22.4%
  • Somewhat prepared (Some food and candles): 22.8%
  • Very prepared (Food, generator, boards): 18.4%

The Majority of People Are Unprepared for a Hurricane

The survey data shows the scope of unpreparedness. Only 18 percent of respondents have the food and supplies they need and have taken steps to protect their property with generators, sump pumps, or flood mitigation. 

NOAA is predicting a busy hurricane season in 2020. Some scientists compare the conditions this year to 2005 which had 28 storms develop in the Atlantic and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. 

Storm preparations can have a significant impact on limiting property damage and protecting family members. Yet only a small percentage of people have taken preemptive measures. 

Simultaneously, last-minute hurricane preparations could be challenging this year because the supply chains are already stretched due to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, the hardware store may run out of supplies quicker than usual, and as a result, homeowners could face an increase in property damage. 

Age Gap in Hurricane Preparedness 

The survey results also reveal an interesting trend about how age relates to hurricane preparedness. Young people are more likely to be unprepared, while older age groups tend to be more prepared. 

We crunched the numbers and discovered those age 55-64 are 79 percent more likely to be prepared for a hurricane than those age 25-34.

Additionally, the younger age group of 25-34-year-olds are 49 percent more likely to have little to no preparation compared to those age 55 to 64.

How Is Hurricane Preparedness Different During COVID-19?

This year, hurricane season will be different. A tropical storm or hurricane will still bring its high winds, flood waters, and storm surge. However, the fight against COVID-19 persists, creating a double disaster scenario. 

The combined impact will likely be felt at all levels of hurricane response. 

Local first responders could be stretched thin. FEMA also has staff shortages with field operations leaders dropping by 57 percent. Volunteer support will also likely be reduced as high-risk populations stay home and travel is discouraged. 

Among those living in the hurricane's path, the risk of viral spread could change people's behavior. A survey from AAA found that 42 percent of people are less likely to evacuate during a hurricane because of coronavirus. For those who don't evacuate, preparations will be especially critical. 

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

In 2020, hurricane preparedness involves multiple guidelines. FEMA and local authorities will continue to issue guidance about storms, emergency plans, and evacuation routes. However, to stay safe, you'll also need to heed the latest COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Make sure your preparations include both property protection and personal safety. 

You may want to add additional supplies to your emergency kit. In addition to the food, water, and important documents that you typically need, it could be helpful to add masks, hand sanitizer, and a cell phone battery backup.

To protect your property, take steps to prepare for rain, wind, flooding, and outages. Be sure that your drainage systems are directing water away from your foundation. Waterproof your basement or crawl space, and install storm shutters to protect weak points like windows and a garage door. 

It can be comforting to know that when a hurricane strikes, you'll have a sump pump that can run on a battery backup. Even when the power is out, thousands of gallons of water can be removed from your home each hour. 

Learn more about how the Groundworks team can help you protect your home from flooding and hurricanes.