Original Paper

Natural Hazards

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 1029-1036

First online:

Hurricane preparedness and planning in coastal public school districts in the United States

  • Jessica Van MeterAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Kent State UniversityDepartment of Geosciences, Mississippi State University
  • , Thomas W. SchmidlinAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Kent State University Email author 

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One hundred school districts were surveyed along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts from North Carolina to Texas. Nearly all had recent experience with a tropical storm or hurricane and had hurricane plans in place. About half teach hurricane preparedness to students and 85 % train staff members in hurricane preparedness. Sources of information about cyclone threats were the National Hurricane Center (91 %), local television news (74 %), The Weather Channel (67 %), and the internet (67 %). Only 36 % would cancel classes for a hurricane warning but 89 % would cancel classes for a mandatory evacuation. Most districts (75 %) would use schools as storm shelters, and 92 % would use school busses to assist in community evacuations. Districts with a higher percentage of Hispanic population provided hurricane information in Spanish. Larger school districts were less likely to cancel classes in the middle of the day for a storm threat. Districts with higher home values were less likely to use school busses for evacuations, and smaller school districts were less likely to provide schools as storm shelters. There were no other significant associations between hurricane preparedness of the districts and district demographic variables of poverty, percent black, percent Hispanic, population, district size, or median home values.


Hurricane Tropical cyclone Schools Preparedness United States