What Water Data From This Florida City Tells Us About Who Evacuates Hurricanes

When Hurricane Idalia’s projected path threatened Joe Borcynski’s mobile home last year, his neighbors in the low-lying Gull Aire Village promptly packed their belongings and evacuated.

According to Tampa Bay Times, Borcynski is one of the thousands across Pinellas who have defied mandatory evacuation orders in recent years as hurricanes churn within striking distance. Local government officials are targeting this populace to combat what they say is growing complacency ahead of what could be one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record.

It’s difficult for emergency managers to pinpoint exactly how many people flee ahead of a storm — and where to find those who remain — but city and county officials say they get a clearer picture with each passing hurricane season.

For one, when people like Borcynski stay behind, they use water. They are flushing toilets, taking showers, doing dishes and washing clothes. Since as early as Hurricane Irma in 2017, Oldsmar utility workers used water consumption data to estimate how many people remain.

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