Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Geography

Major Professor

Graham A. Tobin, Ph.D.

Keywords

Natural hazards, GIS, HAZUS-MH, Social vulnerability, Loss estimation

Abstract

Determining where people are most likely to suffer losses and have difficulty in evacuating from a hurricane is important to developing a hurricane response strategy. This thesis proposes a methodology for modeling and assessing evacuation vulnerability to a specific hurricane and applies this method to study Pinellas County, Florida. The vulnerability of Pinellas County to evacuation problems and the degree of loss that may be suffered from a hurricane is quantified in the Hurricane Evacuation Vulnerability Index. This index is the sum of three indices that represent social, transportation, and geophysical aspects of hazards research. Social vulnerability is assessed with an existing social vulnerability model that uses census data to locate areas where people will have difficulty evacuating based on demographic variables. Areas where people are vulnerable to traffic problems due to the condition of the evacuation routes are identified with a model developed using GIS.

The degree of damage these areas may suffer from a specific hurricane is modeled using a tightly coupled GIS program, HAZUS-MH. These loss estimates are used to identify areas where evacuation may be necessary. The Hurricane Evacuation Vulnerability Index is mapped to show the areas that are most vulnerable to evacuation problems and may suffer losses to the built environment and subsequent human displacement. The Hurricane Evacuation Vulnerability Index is a valuable tool for emergency planning. The results are useful in allocating and directing resources to facilitate the evacuation of vulnerable areas. Emergency management officials can prepare evacuation plans based on the modeled results. Traffic management strategies can be implemented to reduce traffic congestion along evacuation routes. Transportation resources, such as buses, can be directed to areas where people do not have the resources to evacuate.

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