Should i Stay or Should i Go? Response to the Hurricane Ike Evacuation Order on the Texas Gulf Coast

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Abstract

Few variables consistently predict evacuation across regions, although most regions find that 30 to 40% of residents in official evacuation zones fail to evacuate. To better understand the failure to evacuate, this study used open-ended interviews to elicit rationales for evacuation and nonevacuation in Galveston, Texas, following Hurricane Ike. Residents were selected in pairs (evacuee/nonevacuee) from the same neighborhoods to control for socioeconomic factors and storm damage. Themes concerning risk evaluation suggest an underlying difference in risk threshold based on wind category. Groups differed in degree of perceived threat and response to that threat. Evacuees perceived threat as high because of rising water levels and sought to protect vulnerable household members. Nonevacuees perceived threat as lower compared to getting caught in traffic; they had a sturdy house, were experienced, and sought to protect their property. Some did not have time to evacuate and flooding was worse than anticipated. Future communication about storm risk should include expected wind, surge (expressed as flood risk), storm size, and rainfall, with adequate time for evacuation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4016003
JournalNatural Hazards Review
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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