Drivers of natural disaster risk-reduction actions and their temporal dynamics: Insights from surveys during an imminent hurricane threat and its aftermath


To improve preparedness for natural disasters, it is imperative to understand the factors that enable individual risk-reduction actions. This study offers such insights using innovative real-time (N = 871) and repeated (N = 255) surveys of a sample of coastal residents in Florida regarding flood preparations and their drivers during an imminent threat posed by Hurricane Dorian and its aftermath. Compared with commonly employed cross-sectional surveys, our methodology better represents relationships between preparedness actions undertaken during the disaster threat and their drivers derived from an extended version of Protection Motivation Theory (PMT). The repeated survey allows for examining temporal dynamics in these drivers. Our results confirm the importance of coping appraisals and show that risk perceptions relate more strongly to emergency protection decisions made during the period of the disaster threat than to decisions made well before. Moreover, we find that several personal characteristics that we add to the standard PMT framework significantly relate to undertaking preparedness actions, especially locus of control and social norms. Significant changes in key explanatory variables occur following the disaster threat, including a decline in risk perception, a potential learning effect in coping appraisals, and a decline in risk aversion. Our results confirm the advantage of the real-time and repeated survey approach in understanding both short- and long-term disaster preparedness actions.

Risk Analysis