Fleeing the Storm(s): Evacuations During Florida’s 2004 Hurricane Season
The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in Florida’s history, with four hurricanes causing at least 47 deaths and some $45 billion in damages. In order to collect information on the demographic impact of those hurricanes, we surveyed households throughout the state and in the local areas sustaining the greatest damage. Using these data, we estimated that one-quarter of Florida’s population evacuated prior to at least one of the hurricanes; in some areas, well over half the residents evacuated at least once and many evacuated several times. Most evacuees stayed with family or friends and were away from home for only a few days. In this study, we summarize the results regarding the number of evacuees, types of lodging, and number of days spent away from home for the state and the regions hit hardest by the hurricanes. Using logistic regression analysis, we analyze the factors affecting evacuation decisions. With continued population growth in coastal areas and the apparent increase in hurricane intensity (and perhaps frequency) caused by global warming, the threat posed by hurricanes is increasing as well. We believe the results of the present study will help federal, state, and local officials deal more effectively with this threat.
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