Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jennifer Collins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robin Ersing, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yi Qiang, Ph.D.


evacuation behavior, natural disasters and hazards, Pinellas County, tropical cyclones


The purpose of this research was to examine the evacuation decision-making process during Hurricane Irma in 2017. Special consideration was given to the role of an individual’s social connections (SCs). Additionally, the dependability, density (i.e., social network size and number of connections), and diversity of SCs were compared between those who: (a) evacuated to a shelter in Pinellas County, (b) evacuated to somewhere outside of the Tampa Bay area, and (c) did not evacuate. Data for evacuees and non-evacuees from Collins et al. (2018) were used to perform this comparison, while the data for shelter evacuees were acquired via a mailed survey. To provide a more complete understanding of decision-making factors, sources of hurricane information and population demographics were considered and compared between the shelter evacuee, evacuee, and non-evacuee groups. Finally, this study evaluated how the COVID-19 pandemic might influence future evacuation decision making among shelter evacuees. By way of statistical analyses, the results showed that shelter evacuees had the lowest scores for all measures of SCs when compared to evacuees and non-evacuees, with nearly all pairwise comparisons exhibiting statistically significant differences. Individuals with higher education levels and greater income perceived greater functionality among their SCs. For information sources, evacuees relied more on friends, family, and social networking than shelter evacuees and non-evacuees, supporting the idea that those who rely on their social networks are more likely to evacuate. COVID-19 did have a significant effect on future decisions for shelter evacuees, as they were less likely to evacuate to a shelter after COVID-19. These results contribute to disaster evacuation studies and inform emergency management operations, which are vital while simultaneously managing two disasters.

Included in

Geography Commons