TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – With inflation reaching a four-decade high, leaders at the Florida Division of Emergency Management say more people will opt for public shelters rather than traveling several miles to a hotel.

High costs are also expected to impact severe weather preparedness kits.

“We are very concerned with what’s happening economically. It’s more expensive for people to drive further locations or to even have all of their hurricane items or even to be able to afford a hotel or a motel to stay at,” said Cathie Perkins, Director at Pinellas County Emergency Management.

Juliana Sheets lives in Palmetto Beach and plans to find a safe place during storms, but getting a hotel is not an option as her expenses have peaked.

“It’s hard when everything is so tight already and it’s going to be hard buying more stuff,” Sheets said.

Sheets plans to travel closer inland to stay with family and will take advantage of Florida’s tax-free disaster preparedness holiday to purchase items needed for her severe weather kit.

For those who need to stay a shelter, leaders in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties say they are prepared.

“We do have shelter space available, and we’ll squeeze people in if we have to,” Perkins said.

“If we are expecting higher population and need for those emergency shelters, it doesn’t’ mean we aren’t going to be able to meet that need, it just means those shelters are not going to be comfortable,” said Katja Miller, Hillsborough County Emergency Management Operations Section Chief.



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