Governor’s Hurricane Conference
May 11, 2006
Most Florida newspapers have some sort of story today from the Governor's Hurricane Conference. The stories feature two themes: One is the need for people to be prepared:
People should be able to care for themselves without government assistance for 72 hours after a hurricane, Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday during a meeting of the state's emergency planners.
Emergency officials need to focus on the truly needy – the elderly and the disabled – not people who refuse to forgo the comforts of modern life when the power goes out, Bush said.
"It gets harder when people line up to get ice and water in their Lexuses and Mercedes when Publix is open one block away," said Bush, referring to Hurricane Wilma last year, when people in South Florida complained about the pace of ice and water delivery in the hours after the storm…
Public urged to prepare for storms (St Pete Times)
Other articles say that line from Bush was meet with cheers and applause from the planners and first-responders that attend the conference. A Palm Beach Post article on the food stamps after Wilma, has anecdotal evidence of people who shouldn't have needed assistance taking it just because it was there.
The other theme of the articles was the fear that South Floridians have a "I've been through the worst, so I don't need to prepare for the next one" mindset.
Hurricane experts have a growing fear about South Floridians: They're overexperienced.
It sounds counterintuitive, but emergency planners worry that the four hurricanes that struck South Florida during the past two years have made residents not wiser but more complacent.
Why? Because the storms packed a wallop but didn't deliver a devastating knockout punch like Hurricane Ivan on the Panhandle or Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
Experts worry too many South Floridians are using the lighter hits from Frances, Jeanne, Katrina and Wilma as a yardstick for all future hurricane preparation…
Indeed, of the four storms listed there, Jeanne was the only one to affect the east coast of Florida as major hurricane (Category three or stronger). People affected by Wilma are the ones who give the greatest concern as they many of them think they went through a category three (or even four) hurricane, when it was only a category two by the time it got to the heavily populated areas.