ORLANDO, Fla. – The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is less than two months away, and federal officials said Wednesday that they are worried people in places that have been spared the wrath of tropical cyclones in recent years are not going to prepare for some of Earth’s most violent storms.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham both expressed their concerns about complacency at the National Hurricane Conference being held in Orlando this week.
Graham said that while Louisiana has been pummeled by storms during the past few seasons, Florida has been largely spared from the worst effects.
"Just because it didn't happen in the last couple of years doesn't mean it can't happen this year," Graham said. "So the complacency part of it is it worries me. There's places that haven't seen a hurricane in a century, and, you know, they feel pretty much like, 'Oh! (It) can't happen here. It hasn't happened in a long time.' That's just chance."
Criswell said she also shares Graham’s worry, adding that she believes it will be challenging to get people in those places to take a storm seriously when one heads in their direction.
"We've got to be able to communicate to those individuals that aren't necessarily taking it as serious as they could or should, because history has shown that it just keeps going one way or the other, and they think that they are immune, which we all know that they're not," Criswell said.
Earlier in the week, Graham pointed out that a majority of the worst storms to hit the U.S. in the past century have rapidly intensified as they approached landfall.
Criswell said that means everyone needs to watch every storm intently and prepare now for anything that might be headed their way.
"Disasters do not discriminate on where they're going to hit, and just because it hasn't hit your neighborhood in recent years, or it keeps steering one way or the other does not mean that this is not the year that it's going to happen."