9B.2 Information as Intervention: How can Hurricane Risk Communication Reduce Vulnerability?

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 4:15 PM
613 (Washington State Convention Center )
Heather Lazrus, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and O. Wilhelmi, J. Henderson, R. E. Morss, and A. Deitrich

When weather hazards such as hurricanes threaten, certain populations may stand to be particularly affected due to their exposure and sensitivity to the hazard impacts. Unfortunately, improved forecast and warning information may not automatically lead to better decisions and outcomes. Recognizing the numerous constraints that vulnerable populations face in responding to hazards, we explore how information can be provided in order to enable protective actions that leverage adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerability. In this presentation, we examine how risk communication interacted with population vulnerability as Hurricane Sandy threatened and then wreaked destruction in several communities in New York City in October, 2012. We present findings from focus groups held with residents of communities that were drastically affected by Sandy. Participants of the focus groups included people from Spanish and Russian-speaking communities, undocumented immigrants, residents of public and senior housing, and people with fewer economic resources. Our findings indicate the important role that cultural attitudes, social networks, use of communication technologies, and accessibility of information about services and assistance play in how people respond to risk communication.
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