Factors of influence on flood risk perceptions related to Hurricane Dorian: an assessment of heuristics, time dynamics and accuracy of risk perceptions


Flood damage caused by hurricanes is expected to rise globally due to climate and socio-economic change. Enhanced flood preparedness among the coastal population is required to reverse this trend. The decisions and actions taken by individuals are thought to be influenced by risk perceptions. This study investigates the determinants that shape flood risk perceptions, as well as the factors that drive flood risk misperceptions of coastal residents. We conducted a survey among 871 residents in flood-prone areas in Florida during a five-day period in which the respondents were threatened to be flooded by Hurricane Dorian. This approach allows for assessing temporal dynamics in flood risk perceptions during an evolving hurricane threat. Among 255 of the same households, a follow-up survey was conducted to examine how flood risk perceptions vary after Hurricane Dorian failed to make landfall in Florida. Our results show that the flood experience and social norms have the most consistent relationship with flood risk perceptions. Furthermore, participants indicated that their level of worry regarding the dangers of flooding decreased after the near-miss of Hurricane Dorian, compared to their feelings of worry during the hurricane event. Based on our findings, we offer recommendations for improving flood risk communication policies.

Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences