Documenting Social Factors and Evacuation Vulnerability: Pinellas County, Florida

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To reduce the exposure to any emergencies, effective mass evacuation management can be vital. Evacuation decisions by people at risk, is certainly depended on some social factors which can define the success and failure of such practices. Most of the previous studies have identified the role of individual social factors pertinent to evacuation decision, but in reality, these factors act in a holistic way. Measuring the roles of individual factors and combining them can help detect areas most in need of evacuation assistance by the emergency managers. This research has identified those areas of high evacuation assistance need for the Pinellas County by indexing the social factors of evacuation from the census block data. From the final index, three zones have been identified. The North Greenwood and Highpoint areas are vulnerable due to high poverty levels, low vehicle ownership, and large numbers of mobile homes. The Gandy area is vulnerable because of mobile homes, dense housing networks, anda large number of children under age of five. The third zone, South St. Petersburg, has a high proportion of individuals with special evacuation needs. These results can be used by emergency managers in each phase of emergency management, resource allocation, risk reduction and providing special service. With this effective index, an evacuation should be more successful by improving response times.

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Presented at the Applied Geography Conference in October 2016 in Louisville, KY