Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Pet Ownership and the Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Evacuation Decisions

Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Pet Ownership and the Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Evacuation Decisions

Article excerpt

The authors surveyed a sample of evacuees displaced by Hurricane Gustav about their decision to include or not include household pets in their evacuation plans. Data were collected along two major evacuation routes within the 48-hour window prior to landfall in the southern and coastal regions of Louisiana, south of Interstate 10. Zip code data collected from the surveys showed that respondents most frequently evacuated from the zip code regions of New Orleans, Houma, and Lafayette. Results revealed that the majority of evacuees with pets chose to include them in their evacuation plans, highlighting the significance that household pets play in making timely evacuation decisions. While not significant in every region, evacuation distance was less for people with pets than people who did not have pets in their vehicles.

KEY WORDS: Hurricanes, evacuation, pets, risk perception

Los autores encuestaron una muestra de evacuados desplazados por el Huracan Gustav sobre su decision de incluir o no a las mascotas famillares en sus planes de evacuacion. Los datos fueron recolectados a lo largo de dos mayores rutas de evacuacion dentro del periodo de 48 horas previo a que el huracon Uegara a tierra en la region del sur y costera de Louisiana, al sur de la lnterestatal 10. Datos de codigos postales recolectadas a traves de las encuestas demostraron que los encuestados salian con mayor frecuencia de las regiones de codigo postal de Nueva Orleans, Houma, y Lafayette. Los resultados revelaron que la mayoria de los evacuados con mascotas optaron por incluirlas en sus planes de evacuacion, resaltando el significado que las mascotas tienen en la toma oportuna de decisiones de evacuacion. Si bien no es significativo en todas las regiones, la distancia de evacuaci6n fue menor para personas con mascotas que para las personas que no tenian mascotas en sas vehiculos.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Huracanes, evacuacion, mascotas, percepcion de riesgo

INTRODUCTION

Each year, an average of three to four hurricanes make landfall on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States, with the greatest threat along the northern Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the Mid-Atlantic (Brettschneider 2008). In the days preceding the landfall of a storm, people in threatened areas consider many different hurricane-landfall scenarios that might affect their decision to evacuate. This decision is complex and layered, regardless of whether evacuation is voluntary or mandatory (Bateman and Edwards 2002; Dash and Gladwin 2007; Gladwin 2007; Brommer and Senkbeil 2010; Senkbeil et al. 2010). Evacuation decisions commonly evolve based on the local environment and susceptibility at landfall (Rappaport 2000; Verbout et al. 2007; Colleet al. 2008; Resio et al. 2009; Schmidlin 2009), physical characteristics of the storm (Zhang et al. 2007; Brommer and Senkbeil 2010; Senkbeil et al. 2010), and socio-economic factors affecting personal evacuation choices (Baker 1991; Dow and Cutter 1998; Zhang et al. 2007; Regnier 2008). As noted by Dash and Gladwin (2007), the decision to stay or leave is ultimately based on a multitude of hurricane-related factors that shape personal risk perception.

Following the devastating hurricane season of 2005, particularly during the events before and after Hurricane Katrina's landfall, pet ownership emerged as an important issue to consider as a part of evacuation planning (Edmunds and Cutter 2008). Past research on pet evacuation has included non-hurricane events such as hazardous materials spills and flooding (Heath et al. 2000, 2001, 2001b) and has revealed that failure to evacuate one's pets was related to the respondent's expected time away from home and lack of knowledge about where to take one's pet in an evacuation. Hurricane-related evacuation assessments associated with pet ownership also indicate a hesitance to leave animals behind. In a logistical model, Whitehead et al. (2000) found pet ownership to be a significant contributor in successfully predicting evacuation decisions. …

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