The role of regional cultural values in decisions about hurricane evacuation

Roberta D. Baer, Susan Weller, Christopher Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper explores perceived risk within the context of regional cultural values. We describe aspects of local culture in Galveston, Texas, as emically defined, which affected response to a mandatory evacuation order for Hurricane Ike. Since over the past two decades about a third of residents failed to evacuate for hurricanes, we focused on understanding why residents would choose to stay. We used a matched-pair design to control for socioeconomic status and resources that might affect evacuation. Thus, pairs of neighbors were interviewed (one person who evacuated and a neighbor who did not evacuate). Using a new technique (qualitative comparative analysis) to find clustering among people and themes, narratives from in-depth open-ended interviews revealed two distinct groups of people with separate motivations for not evacuating. One group focused on the hazards of leaving because traffic hazards could be greater than storm risk, combining traffic risk with past experiences and concern about delay in reentering. These people were well-prepared with supplies and equipment to survive for a week or two without services. A second group focused on media "hype;" they simply did not believe news sources about the danger the storm posed. Unfortunately, in this case, the media warnings were correct, and the storm fooded the town with about thirteen feet of seawater, sewage, and debris. The historical pattern of official warnings, response actions, and media warnings considered to be "hype," may actually be encouraging a culture of non-compliance with future mandatory evacuation orders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-146
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Organization
Volume78
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

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traffic
resident
Values
sewage
Group
social status
news
town
narrative
human being
interview
resources
Warning
Cultural Values
experience
Traffic
Neighbors
Residents
Hazard
Media Hype

Keywords

  • Culture and disasters
  • Disaster response
  • Galveston
  • Hurricane evacuation
  • Hurricane Ike

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

The role of regional cultural values in decisions about hurricane evacuation. / Baer, Roberta D.; Weller, Susan; Roberts, Christopher.

In: Human Organization, Vol. 78, No. 2, 01.06.2019, p. 133-146.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Baer, Roberta D. ; Weller, Susan ; Roberts, Christopher. / The role of regional cultural values in decisions about hurricane evacuation. In: Human Organization. 2019 ; Vol. 78, No. 2. pp. 133-146.
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