Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What does it take to get people to flee a storm?

NEW YORK — Despite days of dire forecasts and explicit warnings, hundreds of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey ignored mandatory evacuation orders as Superstorm Sandy closed in. Now, after scores of deaths and harrowing escapes, emergency officials will look at what more can be done to persuade residents to get out when their lives are in danger.

"The issue of those who either can't or won't abide by those orders — that is a question that we have to address," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said during a recent tour of ravaged Staten Island.

The same troubling pattern has been seen in previous storms, and the ideas tried across the country include stern warnings about the dangers of staying behind, moral appeals not to imperil rescuers, scary ads, and laws that threaten fines or jail time. And yet many people refuse to leave, and some come to regret it — if they survive.

"Staying there was the stupidest thing I've ever done," acknowledged Steve Shapiro, a 55-year-old Staten Island resident who saw Sandy's surge lift nearby houses off their foundations. Two of his neighbors, a 13-year-old girl and her 55-year-old father, died when the rushing water destroyed their house.

Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz said officials should work to make sure residents feel safe in shelters and feel confident their homes will be safeguarded in their absence.

But to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it's a matter of changing minds, not tactics.

"People have got to start learning that when we say something, we mean it," he said.

Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 and left others stranded for days on roofs, in attics and on streets in flooded New Orleans in 2005, starkly illustrated to the rest of the country the importance of getting out.

Often, though, people think a storm won't be so bad or that their homes are built tough enough. Some want to avoid shelters or the expense of staying in a hotel. Still others worry that their homes will be looted.

Florida State University professor Jay Baker, who has studied the subject for decades, said it is not unusual for one-third to half of all residents to defy mandatory evacuation orders, especially in places that haven't been hit hard recently.

Comments
Lightning claims Gabriel Dumont off waivers

Lightning claims Gabriel Dumont off waivers

The Lightning got Gabriel Dumont back.Dumont, 27, was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The veteran forward will likely be reassigned to AHL Syracuse, but could get a callup to help with faceoffs down the stretch.The Lightning lost Dumon...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Massive crowds at gun rally at Florida Capitol

Massive crowds at gun rally at Florida Capitol

A huge crowd jammed outside the Capitol on Wednesday during a rally that included Parkland students, teachers and parents.Early crowd estimates are up at about 5,000.Chanting "vote them out" outside the #florida Capitol for #StonemanDouglas...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Bucs add ex-USF, Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas to coaching staff

Bucs add ex-USF, Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas to coaching staff

Dirk Koetter has filled out his 2018 coaching staff, hiring former USF and Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas as his new defensive quality control coach.Nicholas, 34, starred for the Bulls and played in Atlanta from 2007-13, much of that under curre...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Three-year-old found wandering in street leads to arrest of New Port Richey man

Three-year-old found wandering in street leads to arrest of New Port Richey man

PORT RICHEY — A 59-year-old man was arrested by Pasco County deputies Tuesday evening after a 3-year-old in his care was found wandering outside alone, the Sheriff’s Office said.Larry Dixon, of New Port Richey, was arrested at 8710 Bench Drive at abo...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Imagine Dragons coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Imagine Dragons coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Let's be honest: Imagine Dragons are probably the most successful rock band of this decade.They're not the only group to debut in the 2010s who can also headline arenas, but they're definitely the only one to have such enormous crossover success on a...
Updated: 5 minutes ago

Toga! Toga! 40th anniversary celebration of ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ in Tampa this week

In the immortal words of Flounder at Faber College’s homecoming parade: Oh boy, this is gonna be great!A 40th anniversary celebration of National Lampoon’s Animal House featuring appearances by two stars of the quintessential campus comedy happens Th...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Dinesh D’Souza mocks Parkland students then apologies

Dinesh D’Souza mocks Parkland students then apologies

Conservative filmmaker and lightning rod Dinesh D'Souza sparked controversy — and apologized on Wednesday — for mocking a photo of emotional Parkland students watching the Florida House vote down a ban on assault weapons.Worst news since ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died Wednesday. He was 99. Graham, who l...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Florida House advances a financial literacy course ‘opportunity’ in bill that picks up HB 7055 pieces

Florida House advances a financial literacy course ‘opportunity’ in bill that picks up HB 7055 pieces

A proposal to add a standalone high school financial literacy class to Florida's course offerings moved through the House Education Committee on Wednesday, falling short of what some members — not to mention some banking lobbyists and the ...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Overdoses, DUIs, stolen drugs: Florida’s third-biggest fire rescue department has a problem

Overdoses, DUIs, stolen drugs: Florida’s third-biggest fire rescue department has a problem

TAMPA — Ragon Frost slumped in his chair at the dispatch desk of the Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center. His face was clammy and pale, his head and hands shaking.A 911 call came in just then, on the evening of Oct. 27, 2016. Frost,...
Updated: 29 minutes ago