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Emergency Management Officials Study Hurricane Evacuations Behaviors

RALEIGH - As the year’s third named tropical storm churns in the Atlantic, local and state emergency managers are examining behaviors and attitudes regarding evacuations during hurricanes. For the next month, interviewers will call hundreds of coastal residents to learn more about their past behaviors and future plans when evacuation orders are issued. The hurricane evacuation study is being conducted for North Carolina Emergency Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District.

“Our primary mission is to get people out of harm’s way and keep them safe,” explained Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan. “Understanding how coastal residents receive evacuation information and then decide what to do with that knowledge will help us better plan for each storm and determine how best to coordinate and allocate our resources.”

Each call will last 15 to 20 minutes and will ask residents about topics such as:

  • information sources used during hurricane threats
  • past behaviors during hurricane evacuations
  • expected plans if future evacuation orders are issued
  • perceived vulnerability to hurricanes and storm surge
  • concerns and constraints to evacuating
  • number and type of vehicles planned to use for evacuations

The information will help local emergency managers better understand and predict how their residents may act when hurricanes threaten. Once compiled, the data will help drive local transportation and sheltering decisions.

“If people don’t understand or believe the risks of staying, they are less likely to evacuate,” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “As emergency managers, we need to understand those attitudes so we can tell them when and where they need to go and what is the best route.”

Sprayberry said a similar study was conducted in 2003, but the state’s population has increased more than 15 percent since then and there are a lot of new residents that have never experienced a hurricane. Results from the compiled survey are expected by late September.

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Contact: Julia Jarema
Date: July 10, 2013
Phone: 919-825-2270