They Risk Death, Injury, And Damage, So Why Stay? Because Hurricane Evacuation May Not Be So Cut And Dry

Why do some people stay in their homes when they are urged to evacuate? There may be some reasons pulling them to stay.

Recovery Efforts Continue In Hurricane-Ravaged Florida Panhandle
Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images

Why do some people stay in their homes when they are urged to evacuate? There may be some reasons pulling them to stay.

There is typically frustration on the behalf of the government and FEMA following a hurricane. Why? Because even with all the warnings and encouragement, some people still do not evacuate. According to NPR, the head of FEMA, Brock Long, said, “‘When we ask people at the local and state level to heed the warnings, dang it, do it! Get out!'”

But what if it is not that easy?

For starters, not all who need to evacuate can afford to do so. This fact is especially true for those who do not have family or friends that they can stay with and need to rely on a hotel. Evacuation expenses for cases such as these “can cost upward of $2,000.”

Perhaps sometimes going hand-in-hand are those that stay in order to make money. These people are often in the “service and construction industries,” and are told that their help following a major hurricane is lucrative, causing them to be concerned about their job security. Other people stay to help the cleaning up process from other people’s properties: a way “to make extra cash.”

Some people have factors that tie them in. Those that are sick themselves, or caring for someone else who is, pets, or any person that requires extra or constant care can cause people to stay rather than to evacuate.

Other people stay in the hopes that the news, media, and government, did not project the hurricane correctly. Additionally, those who have “experienced many near misses may assume this next storm will be more of the same.” To combat this issue, the news and government try to implement “the fear factor,” which attempts to scare people into leaving. This tactic can range from educational videos documenting the projected height of the floodwaters, to “asking people to write their Social Security numbers on their arms so search teams can identify their bodies.”

One of the most likely reasons that a person does not evacuate, though, is their inability to do so. Many people lack the means to get out, whether it be that they lack proper transportation or are in the hospital or prison.

Some people believe that there needs to be better evacuation systems for those that cannot leave, but taking a look at New Orleans, Houston, and South Florida, even the “best-developed evacuation plans” cannot prevent “the most devastation.”