Fleeing the storm(s): An examination of evacuation behavior during Florida’s 2004 hurricane season

Publication Date: 
Sunday, February 1, 2009

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. We estimate that one-quarter of Florida’s population evacuated prior to at least one hurricane; 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. With continued population growth in coastal areas and the apparent increase in hurricane activity caused by global warming, the threats posed by hurricanes are rising in the United States and throughout the world. We believe the present study will help government officials plan more effectively for future hurricanes evacuations.

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