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Gas prices may stop some Floridians from evacuating for hurricanes

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Bill Schneider drives an older Mercury Mountaineer with a V8 engine.

It’s an SUV that does not sip gas by any means. So when asked if he planned to evacuate this hurricane season, the answer was a resounding no.

“The last hurricane was a few years ago and the price has doubled,” said Schneider. “And half of the people didn’t leave then because gas was too much. “

Schneider isn’t alone. A recent study released by the AAA Auto Club indicates one in four Floridians will ignore hurricane evacuation warnings.

It also shows that despite 27 percent of Floridians saying that they are more concerned about the hurricane season this year, 29 percent do not make advanced preparations and 44 percent do not have an evacuation plan.

Mark Jenkins is a spokesman for the agency and is urging people to have a plan in place.

“Plan right now for a safe option for your pets, you certainly don’t want to leave them behind,” said Jenkins. “If you’re worried about the higher price of gasoline, start setting aside an evacuation budget for gasoline and hotels.”

Local emergency managers are echoing the concern. Joe Borries is the operation manager for the Pinellas County Emergency Management department. He adds that in addition to having a plan, people who live in hurricane prone areas need to be informed.

“Using local sources of information like Channel 8, like Pinellas County Emergency Management,” said Borries. “So that we can speak to you about the hazards that are approaching us. “

Kayelynn Miller lives in a mobile home in Pinellas County and despite the price of gas, she and her loved ones will evacuate if there is an order issued.

“We normally have to evacuate,” she said. “If it’s over a [category] three, because we live in a mobile home. So we just put money away but we didn’t plan on the gas prices being like this.”

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