Homeowner Behavioral Intent to Evacuate After Flood Risk Warnings

Homeowner Behavioral Intent to Evacuate After Flood Risk Warnings

Kenneth David Strang
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/ijrcm.2013070101
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The purpose was to create a model for improving resident attitudes toward flood evacuation warnings. Survivors of Hurricane Sandy in New York City were surveyed to test hypotheses based on a behavioral intent construct developed from the social-psychology literature. Expectancy Theory and Theory of Reasoned Action served as the basis for the personal attitude and social norm factors. Near disaster experience was derived from natural disaster studies to form a moderator of personal attitude. Credibility of the evacuation message source was engineered from Balance Theory in the consumer behavior literature as a modifier for social norms. A statistically significant model was developed using correlation, stepwise regression, ordinary least squares regression, and logistic regression. Only two composite factors were needed to capture 55.4% of the variance for behavioral intent to evacuate. The model predicted 43.9% of the evacuation decisions, with 13.3% undecided, leaving 42.8 incorrectly classified), using an ex post facto design (N=405).
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Tragically over 8,000 people died in the Galveston Hurricane on the Texas Gulf Coast during the summer of 1900 (Rappaport, 1997). In 1972, even after several days knowledge of an ensuing natural disaster, Hurricane Agnes killed 122 people along the Atlantic coast (Porter, 2013). In 2005, after five days of warnings, unfortunately 1,833 people died at the hands of Hurricane Katrina near the northern Gulf of Mexico coast (AP, 2012b; Knabb, Rhome & Brown, 2006).

In 2008, Hurricane Ike claimed 100 lives from the Galveston area despite evacuation orders (Berg, 2009). In 2012, seven years after Katrina had destroyed New Orleans, Hurricane Isaac killed seven people across five states (Anderson, 2012; AP, 2012a; Bojorquez, 2012; Menon & O'Grady, 2012). Notwithstanding modern early warning systems, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 72 people died later in 2012 from Hurricane Sandy which struck the New York and New Jersey Atlantic coasts (Porter, 2013).

These hurricanes were representative examples of the hundreds of natural disasters that have killed people in USA despite advance warnings. Natural disasters have been equally as devastating around the world, such as the earthquake-tsunami which struck Japan in 2011 (Menon & O'Grady, 2012). These deaths could have been prevented if the residents had evacuated. More research is needed about how to motivate people to evacuate before natural disasters occur (Cigler, 2009; Horney, PiaD.M.MacDonald, Willigen, Berke & Kaufman, 2010; Kim & Kang, 2010; Lee, Meyer & Bradlow, 2009).

The importance of planning for natural disasters can also be highlighted from an economic basis. Although life insurance claims account for only a fraction of the costs stemming from disasters, the large financial losses associated with property damage illustrates the significance of these catastrophic events (Basora, 2012).

Property reinsurance companies such as Munich (the largest in the world) claimed a three-decade trend shows a steady global increase in weather and climate related disasters (Basora, 2012). According to Munich, weather-related natural disasters in 2011 exerted the costliest toll in history, amounting to $380 billion worth of losses from earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and tsunamis (Naismith, 2012). “A new tally shows New York City has been working overtime on Superstorm Sandy recovery – more than $150 million of it” (Rice, 2013, p. 1).

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