INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — Hurricane season is here again, which means it's time to make sure you know whether you live in an evacuation zone, what kind of zone and the risks specific to neighborhoods during a storm.
Law enforcement officers face challenges when people ignore evacuation orders.
The beauty of waterfront living has the positive of great views, which often makes the risks of storm damage an afterthought.
However, residents of mobile home communities who live inland can still suffer damage from storms that pack a disastrous punch.
Doug Moore is a new resident of Vero Beach, recently moving to Florida from California. He is still learning the ropes for hurricane preparations from his neighbors inside Southgate Village.
"In this park, most people have been through stuff here," Moore said. "The general consensus is that if it's a [Category] 3 or above, you probably ought to seek other ground."
But he evacuated from his home during Hurricane Nicole late last year and said he would do it again.
"I'm out. I don't need to be rescued," Moore said. "I don't want to be rescued."
Those words are exactly what Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers likes to hear.
"If we're telling you you've gotta go, there's a reason for it," Flowers said. "It's that you're in serious danger in those areas."
Flowers said they can't force people out, but when winds become too strong or flood waters rise too high, deputies and firefighters eventually cannot respond to emergencies.
"Unfortunately we do still continue to receive calls during those times from people who made the wrong choice to stay, the wrong choice to stay, and it's heartbreaking for us," Flowers said. "But then as soon as it clears up enough that we can respond and check on them, we do."
Residents of barrier islands are typically the first to be told they're on their own if they decide to stay during a storm.
But low-lying areas near a river should also consider the possibility of losing that lifeline.
"That river is more vulnerable than people realize," Flowers said. "The surge from the river can really get nasty."
Studies show the cost of evacuating is a big reason some people stay behind. The sheriff said the county makes sure that doesn’t have to be a factor.
"It's better to spend the night in a school (shelter) than potentially risk your life and die," Flowers said. "If we're telling you to go, you need to go."