When the Florida Department of Community Affairs in conjunction with FEMA and the eleven regional planning councils in Florida commissioned the world’s largest project on hurricane preparedness, they hired Downs & St. Germain Research to conduct 18,800 telephone interviews throughout Florida to assess what Floridians will do under various hurricane scenarios and what they have done in past hurricanes. Interviewing quotas were established for each of the 67 counties in Florida and for each evacuation risk zone within each county.
Planning recommendations included participation rates by evacuation zone for five categories of hurricane, evacuation destinations, evacuation timing, and vehicle use. Shadow evacuation assumptions were derived from survey data on evacuation intentions, expectations of being told to evacuate, perceived vulnerability, and shadow evacuation documented in recent hurricanes in the region. Results of this behavioral evacuation study are part of Florida’s overall disaster plan covering not only hurricanes, but also nuclear accidents, river water flooding, and wildfires. Study results will help the State of Florida avoid a Katrina-like disaster.