Unraveling the evacuation behavior of the medically fragile population: Findings from hurricane Irene

Despite the widely recognized importance of evacuation planning for residents with special needs – in this paper referred to as the medically fragile population – there is virtually no research available to guide such planning, as opposed to the numerous empirical research studies on the evacuation behavior of the general population. In this paper, the authors provide these long-overdue insights using data from a large-scale phone survey (over 7000 samples) conducted in the aftermath of hurricane Irene in the Hampton Roads region in Virginia. Via aggregate and disaggregate analyses, the authors start to unravel the behavior of this heavily understudied, and potentially vulnerable population group. Special emphasis will be placed on the differences between the medically fragile and non-medically fragile population. Two alternative definitions for what constitutes medically fragile are examined in this paper. Using the broader definition, it was found that a key difference between these two groups relates to the importance of having a strong network of family members in the area. When considering a more narrow definition, the authors found that being a single parent household, likelihood of neighborhood flooding and knowing most of the names of one’s neighbors have significantly different impacts on the two population groups.


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  • Accession Number: 01528435
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 3 2014 10:16AM