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Updated: 9:20 a.m. Saturday, May 31, 2014 | Posted: 8:31 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The mentality behind not preparing for hurricane season

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Hurricane Dora 1
Hurricane Dora hits Jacksonville in 1964


Hurricane Dora 2 photo
Hurricane Dora hits Jacksonville in 1964, the first and only one to hit the First Coast in recorded history.

By Gene Wexler


Many people in Jacksonville don’t prepare ahead of hurricane season

It’s a bold statement, but something WOKV has learned through years of talking with the city’s leaders and residents.  This year the news team decided to seek out an experienced weather expert to discuss why so many people forego pre-planning.

Professor Don Resio is the Director of the Taylor Engineering Research Institute at the University of North Florida.  He’s the 2007 recipient of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Researcher of the Year Award.  He recently traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to meet with other experts and discuss Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines last year.

 “I’ve come across very few people who take hurricane evacuation seriously in this area.” Resio says.  “I think Jacksonville is particularly in disbelief that hurricanes can or will strike here.”

To this date, the only hurricane to make landfall in Jacksonville was Hurricane Dora in 1964. 

“Dora, which was a category two when it made landfall, did a significant amount of damage,” Resio says.

Above all, Resio says many people confuse “low risk” with “no risk.”  Hurricanes occur so infrequently that he says experience is sometimes not the best teacher.

“There’s no such thing as zero risk,” he says.

Jacksonville also has a large population of people who have relocated from other states which don’t experience yearly tropical storms

“They don’t realize that you have to do something before the hurricane.”

Resio notes that a hurricane moves so slowly, that people still have time to react after it begins.

“At that time, it’s virtually a hundred percent too late,” Resio says, which is why he encourages people to stock up on supplies and make a plan ahead of time.

When storm warnings lead to evacuations, Resio says the majority of the people leaving the city early already have a place to go.  But most do not, so evacuating becomes a difficult concept.

“Because it’s expensive,” he says.  “The distances are quite long, so they don’t want to evacuate.”

Resio says the potential consequences of a hurricane striking Jacksonville should be evaluated into making decisions.

 “Do you really want to take a chance with your life on something like that?”

He says if you have to leave your belongings, leave your belongings.

“It’s trivial compared to what else you have to lose.”

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