Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Jennifer Collins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robin Ersing, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yujie Hu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles H. Paxton, Ph.D.


Geophysical Vulnerability, Hurricane Irma, Social Vulnerability


The purpose of this study was to determine evacuation decisions of residents in Pinellas County, a vulnerable area in Florida, during Hurricane Irma in 2017, and whether those decisions will impact their future decisions to evacuate. This study also examines the resident’s perception of storm surge flooding during a hurricane. To understand evacuation decisions and storm surge perceptions a survey was conducted on residents in vulnerable areas of Pinellas County. The survey examined multiple aspects including the role of media, relationships, and sociodemographic status on decision making. Another aspect examined if their decision to evacuate for Hurricane Irma will impact their decision for the future. Residents were also asked to rate how different aspects of the storm influenced their decision, including flooding from storm surge. It was concluded that their decision to evacuate for Hurricane Irma will significantly impact their decision to evacuate for the next hurricane, with many residents claiming they would leave their local area. Storm surge was not perceived as the greatest threat, instead wind speed and size of storm were determined to be the greater threat. Better understanding of evacuation decisions and perceptions about storm surge can be used to update emergency management preparations and planning for the next hurricane.