S219 Hurricane Irma Evacuation Decisions Influenced by the Main Hurricane Hazards: Storm Surge, Rainfall, and Wind in Pinellas County, Florida

Sunday, 6 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Amanda F M Bowden, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; and J. M. Collins and R. Ersing

This investigation studies the evacuation decisions for Hurricane Irma based on the three main hurricane hazards: storm surge, rainfall, and wind in Pinellas County, Florida. This research examines which hazard has the biggest impact on propensity to evacuate, and how each hazard affects evacuation decisions. First, this exploration determines the connection between the perceived threat level of hurricane hazards, and the evacuation decision to leave or not. Additionally, this investigation explores how news coverage affects perceived threat levels. These results can spawn adaptation strategies such as better infrastructure for building, bridges, and homes, and produce an effective system for safety education for evacuation decisions and hurricane preparedness. This study uses a two day convenience sample survey of Pinellas County residents, who rank how influential hurricane hazards and news sources affect their decision to evacuate or not on a Likert Scale. This investigation analyzes the data using Pearson's chi-square and Kendall’s tau-b tests, and forms connections through bar graphs. These results show that the hurricane hazards and household decision are statistically significant with all the hazards using Pearson’s chi-square test. Also, wind is ranked highest for most influential hazard, and had statistical significance with five out of the six news sources using Kendall’s tau-b test. Storm surge had statistical significance with two out of the six news sources, while rainfall had statistical significance with three of the six news sources using Kendall’s tau-b test. Therefore, this investigation promotes the connection of the Saffir-Simpson Scale influencing responses, and the expansion on hurricane hazards influencing evacuation decisions. Ultimately, people make their hurricane evacuation decision based on perceived hazards.

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