Mandatory evacuations were in place along the East Coast well before Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, but still hundreds of people chose not to evacuate.
While evacuation orders are issued by states as a protective action in disaster events such as hurricanes and wildfires, they are sometimes ignored by people – whether it’s because they didn’t believe the warnings, didn’t have the financial means or refused to abandon friends, family or pets.
In January, 17 people were killed in flash flooding and mudslides in Southern California, some of whom didn't heed voluntary evacuation orders, The Associated Press reported. One woman whose parents were killed told the Chicago Tribune they decided against evacuating their "forever home."
Six months later, the Carr Fire in northern California near Redding killed six people (and two firefighters), with law enforcement authorities blaming one death on the failure to heed evacuation orders, CBS News reported.
Some 7 million people, primarily in Florida, were asked to flee from Hurricane Irma last September, the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history, easily surpassing the 2.5 million who were ordered to evacuate during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
It’s unknown how many of those millions decided instead to hunker down.
As that storm pounded the Sunshine State, CNN talked to four locals in the Florida Keys who didn't heed warnings, with one saying, "I'm prepared for the worst but hoping for the best," and MSNBC's live on-site weather report from Miami Beach was interrupted by a kite surfer riding hurricane-charged waves.
Those who don’t won’t face punishment, either, and that could be another reason behind peoples’ decision to weather a storm – no matter how dangerous.
Only three states have laws in place to enforce mandatory evacuations – California, New York and North Carolina, with violators facing misdemeanor charges. The California Emergency Services Act also includes possibilities of a fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to six months.