Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Jennifer Collins

Keywords

disasters, hurricane, meteorology, public perception, vulnerability

Abstract

Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Brigantine, New Jersey on October 29th, 2012. The storm impacted the coastal regions of New Jersey and New York, especially the heavily populated area of New York City. This research, which analyzes secondary data obtained from a telephone survey, investigates the public response of residents before, during and after Hurricane Sandy. The survey consisted of questions regarding what the residents expected concerning the threat of Hurricane Sandy, whether it matched what they experienced, where they got their information and how they made their decision to evacuate or not. The results from the survey were statistically analyzed in order to answer important research questions about public perception of Sandy's impacts. A Vulnerability Assessment of New York City, where some of Sandy's impacts were felt the most, was completed in order to understand why this area was so vulnerable. The concern level of various hurricane related hazards was analyzed and correlated to demographic variables to determine a relationship among the variables. A qualitative analysis was performed on the survey questions "Why did you evacuate?" and "Why did you not evacuate?" in order to determine themes in relation to people's reasons for evacuating or not evacuating. Finally, differences in how the public perceived Hurricane Sandy before and after the storm were analyzed and may be used for improving communication of the forecast to the public. Interdisciplinary research in this area is needed in order to better understand the public's need for appropriate warnings to ensure safety. Results show that residents were most concerned about wind damage and that they mainly used their television to obtain their information about the storm. Also, the most common reasons respondents reported for evacuating were because of the threat of possible impacts (storm surge, flooding, wind, rain and waves), the forecast called for bad conditions, or being told, recommended or convinced to leave. The main reasons reported by respondents for not evacuating are thinking that the impacts would not be bad in their area, feeling prepared or safe and thinking they could handle the impacts. This research can be used in the future for improving hurricane warning communication to the public.

Included in

Meteorology Commons

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