Disaster Vulnerability and Evacuation Readiness: Coastal Mobile Home Residents in Florida

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Evacuation, Disaster vulnerability, Perception, Mobile homes, Florida

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This article examines disaster preparedness in a highly vulnerable population, mobile home park residents in hurricane-prone areas. The vulnerabilities of this population mandate evacuation as the only viable disaster response strategy, but this does not always happen. In order to explore evacuation decision making, interviews were conducted with 75 mobile home park residents in Ruskin, Florida. Descriptive results build on a conceptualization of physical, structural, socio-economic, and “residual” disaster vulnerability; the latter is defined as a combination of experiences, perceptions, and preparations that inhibit the willingness and abilities of respondents to protect themselves. While residents generally prepared for disasters, evacuation plans were troubling. Barriers to evacuation based on measured vulnerabilities remained unclear, and analysis of responses failed to explain respondents’ varying evacuation preparations. Future research needs to address differential evacuation behaviors among mobile home park residents. We further conclude that disaster preparation and education need to address the special risks of this and other vulnerable populations better.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Natural Hazards, v. 52, issue 1, p. 79-95