89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Sunday, 11 January 2009
Mass Media During Natural Disasters and Vulnerability of Coastal Communities: A Case Study of the San José Community in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Phoenix Convention Center
Luis D. Padilla-Bauzá, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, PR; and A. Monzón
This research explores how the socio-demographic characteristics of the receiver such as resources,

gender, socio-economic class, and education, can influence their hearing, understanding, believing,

personalizing, and responding during a disaster. The study is not connected to any concrete flood, but

appraises the general perception of floods and related events. Interview surveys were conducted in two

regions of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico: (1) San José community (community in coastal floods zone) and

(2) Mayagüez Terrace community. We selected a sample of 20 people (N = 20), 10 in the San José

community and 10 in the Mayagüez Terrace community. The surveys revealed that people of higher

education have greater knowledge about the risks they face than the people of lower education; however,

it does not reveal reliable information related to income. Also the survey findings revealed that 100%

of San José's respondents and 80% of Mayagüez Terrace's respondents use television to receive local

weather information, whereas 70% (Terrace and San José) use local radio; 60% and 70% in San José and

Terrace respectively use cable networks; 20% and 40% use newspapers; 10% and 60% use Internet; 10%

and 40% receive information for a friend, and 60% and 70% receive information for a family member. In

terms of credibility, Roberto Cortés provides greater credibility in the community of San José whereas

in the Mayagüez Terrace community this would be Ada Monzón. The surveys also highlighted that

people do not understand the terms used in case of a disaster. The terms such as Flashflood Warning

and Flashflood Watches are continuously confused, which eventually represent confusion when deciding

on a possible evacuation.

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