Tornado shelter-seeking behavior and tornado shelter options among mobile home residents in the United States
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Residents of 401 mobile homes in Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, and Oklahoma were surveyed after they heard a tornado warning. Most residents (69%) did not seek shelter during the warning. Half of those who sought shelter went to the frame house of a friend, neighbor, or relative, and 25% of those sought shelter in a basement or underground shelter. Some of the places where residents sought shelter were of dubious quality, such as their own mobile home, another mobile home, or in an out-building. Twenty-one percent of mobile home residents believed that they had a basement or underground shelter available as shelter during a tornado warning, and about half of those said they would drive to the shelter. Residents said they would drive if the shelter was more than 200 m away. Fifteen percent actually had a basement or underground shelter suitable as shelter within 200 m of their mobile home, but only 43% of the residents would use those shelters. The most common reason cited for not using the shelters was that they did not know the people who lived there. Likewise, a frame house or other sturdy building was within 200 m of 58% of the mobile homes, but only 35% of the residents stated they would use those houses for shelter. Thirty-one percent of mobile home residents had a ditch that was at least 0.5 m deep within 200 m of the mobile home. However, 44% of these ditches had utility lines overhead, 23% had water in them, and 20% had trees overhead. The limited tornado shelter options among mobile home residents in the United States needs to be incorporated into safety instructions so that residents without nearby shelter are allowed to drive to safer shelter.
KeywordsTornado Mobile home Warning Shelter
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Geography and Regional Science grant #9904402. We appreciate assistance in our field work from Megan Olsen. Jan Winchell assisted with data analysis, and Mark Bradac, Jeremy Hunter, and Margaret Dixon assisted with data entry.
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