, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 141-158
Date: 19 Sep 2009

The perceived landfall location of evacuees from Hurricane Gustav

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Hurricane evacuations in the United States are costly, chaotic, and sometimes unnecessary. Many coastal residents consider evacuation after viewing a forecasted graphic of where the storm is anticipated to make landfall. During the evacuation process, hurricane tracks commonly deviate from the forecasted landfall track and many evacuees may not pay attention to these track deviations after evacuating. Frequently, a disconnect may occur between the actual landfall track, the official forecasted track, and the perceived track of each individual as they made their evacuation decision. Specifically for evacuees, a shift in track may decrease the hazards associated with a landfalling hurricane since evacuees perceive their threat level to be high at the time of evacuation. Using survey data gathered during the evacuation from Hurricane Gustav (2008) in coastal Louisiana (USA), we calculated a type of Z-score to measure the distance error between each evacuee’s perceived landfall location and the actual landfall location from each evacuee’s home zip code. Results indicate a personal landfall bias in the direction of home zip code for evacuees of three metropolitan regions. Evacuees from the greater New Orleans area displayed the highest error, followed by evacuees from greater Lafayette. Furthermore, we validate the authenticity of the previous results by employing two additional methods of error assessment. A large regional error score might possibly be a predictor of evacuation complacency for a future hurricane of similar magnitude, although there are many other variables that must be considered.