Poll: Most Coastal Residents Unprepared for Hurricane

Despite Hurricane Katrina's devastation of Louisiana and Mississippi, coastal residents have not taken steps to protect their families if a hurricane were to threaten their homes, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Sixty percent of those questioned have no disaster plan, 68 percent don't have a hurricane survival kit and 83 percent have not taken steps to make their homes stronger, the poll said.

Also, 48 percent of people living within 30 miles of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts said they don't feel vulnerable to a hurricane, according to the survey by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc.

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said he is baffled by the apparent lack of concern.

"I honestly don't understand," said Mayfield, who announced a plan to combat the lack of preparedness. "For whatever reason, some people are reacting to the hurricane threat by sticking their heads in the sand."

Florida residents are better prepared than those in other coastal states. Seventy-four percent have a disaster plan, and 70 percent have a hurricane survival kit, the poll said.

Since 2004, Florida has been hit by eight hurricanes. But 34 percent of Floridians said they don't think they'll be affected by one, the survey said.

Thirteen percent of residents in coastal states said they might not or would not evacuate even if ordered to leave.

From April 26 to May 2, Mason-Dixon interviewed 1,100 coastal residents by phone and conducted a separate survey of 625 Florida residents. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Mayfield announced the launch of the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, a campaign to prepare residents in vulnerable areas. The initiative has a Web site and produced two television programs that will be broadcast next month.