Emergency preparedness officials on Wednesday warned Floridians not to get complacent during the upcoming hurricane season, particularly in coastal areas that haven't experienced strong storms recently.
Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, said they worried that many Floridians living in coastal communities had gotten complacent about making hurricane preparations since there hadn't lived through major storms in recent years.
Some of these coastal communities act like a cat “with nine lives" in that hurricanes seem to be heading their way but then change course at the last minute, lulling residents into believing their neighborhoods will never be hit, Criswell said at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida.
“Complacency worries me," Criswell said. “Disasters don’t discriminate. Just because it hasn’t hit your neighborhood doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to hit it this year."
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Hurricanes in recent years have intensified more rapidly than they did in the past, giving emergency managers less time to prepare, and their impacts are being felt well beyond coastal communities, Criswell said.
Forecasters at Colorado State University are predicting that the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season will have 19 named storms and nine hurricanes, slightly higher than the yearly average for the past three decades. The season starts in June and ends in November.