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As Hurricane Idalia approached the Florida coast, not everyone decided to evacuate


How do you make a life-changing or possibly life-saving decision to leave where you live?


Well, that's a choice many people have had to make in Florida this week as Hurricane Idalia bore down on the state before it made landfall early this morning.

DANIEL HICKS: Well, I'm afraid we won't have a business to go back to when we go down there to check out the damage.

SHAPIRO: That is Daniel Hicks, who did heed an evacuation order that was mandatory. He owns a fishing and vacation rental in Horseshoe Beach, south of where the storm made landfall in the early hours of the morning.

HICKS: I had no hesitation in leaving. No, we knew the storm was going to be bad. But we were packing things up and securing things there to prepare for the storm.

KELLY: But other residents have hesitated. Joshua Keith of Panacea, Fla., was under a voluntary evacuation order before Idalia made landfall. When our ALL THINGS CONSIDERED producers asked if he'd left his home...

JOSHUA KEITH: No, I did not 'cause I'm, you know, in decent health. And I watch the tides and, you know, where the hurricane is going to hit and all that.

KELLY: And as for why he stuck around...

KEITH: I don't let fear make my decisions for me. I study and make an educated choice to go or stay.

SHAPIRO: Tara Rawson owns farmland in Mayo, Fla. That's a bit more inland from the Gulf Coast. It was still in the hurricane's path, but she also decided to stay put.

TARA RAWSON: We are Floridians, and we are, you know, use to hurricanes.

SHAPIRO: She's aware of the risks of staying.

RAWSON: I feel like it's a complete miracle that everybody is good and safe.

KELLY: Back in Panacea, Joshua Keith says the unpredictability of a storm's path and keeping up with the flood of information that can come from news and government officials can make decisions on whether to evacuate even more difficult.

KEITH: People could be educated better on how to understand what's actually going to occur in your area versus someplace that's like 80 miles from here that's getting hit harder. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Ashley Brown is a senior editor for All Things Considered.
Kai McNamee
[Copyright 2024 NPR]