Beliefs seen as hurricane response worry

Aug. 27, 2012 at 5:12 PM   |   Comments

COLUMBIA, S.C., Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The attitudes and misinformed mindsets of U.S. coastal residents facing oncoming hurricanes might pose an obstacle to safe evacuations, a study has found.

A range of beliefs and attitudes that could hamper emergency planning and lead to lives being threatened were found in a survey conducted by researchers at the University of South Carolina at the start of the 2012 hurricane season.

Chief among them is a widespread unwillingness to evacuate in advance of a Category 1 or Category 2 hurricane, with nearly two-thirds of coastal South Carolina residents saying they wouldn't do so, a university release said.

"That really surprised us," said Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at USC said.

"We have experience in lots of places along the hurricane coasts where Category 1 and 2 storms have had historically strong impacts -- obviously not as great as a larger magnitude storm, but nevertheless, it's a hurricane."

Even people living in designated storm surge zones said they would be reluctant to evacuate, the survey found.

"People say, 'Oh Category 1, no big deal.' But any hurricane is a big deal, and people need to recognize that and take precautions. Being in a storm surge zone during any hurricane is very dangerous," Cutter said.

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