Hurricane preparedness during the Covid-19 pandemic
Individual Hurricane Preparedness During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights for Risk Communication and Emergency Management Policies.
Abstract: Climate change adaptation strategies should anticipate that the 2020 situation which resembles an above average hurricane season coinciding with a pandemic may occur more frequently in the future. This study draws lessons on how individual hurricane preparedness is influenced by a pandemic, which turns out to be a combination of perceptions of flood and pandemic risks that have opposite effects on preparedness behavior. We conducted three waves of surveys during 2019-2020 to monitor hurricane preparedness activities in flood-prone coastal areas in Florida, including a survey of 600 respondents in early June 2020 to obtain insights into households’ risk perceptions and preparedness for this hurricane season under COVID-19. The results show that this hurricane season is dominated by concerns over COVID-19 which influences people’s evacuation intentions. Whereas hotel costs were the main obstacle to evacuating during Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the main evacuation obstacle identified in the 2020 hurricane season is COVID-19. Our statistical analyses that investigates the factors influencing evacuation intentions consistently show that older individuals are less likely to evacuate voluntarily, because they are concerned about becoming infected by COVID-19. We discuss the implications of our findings for adaptation policies that aim to improve hurricane preparedness in situations of a pandemic, such as risk communication and emergency management policies.