NDSU Researches Hurricane Matthew

As Hurricane Matthew departs from the southeast states of America, North Dakota State researchers are looking into people’s decisions against evacuation.

NDSU, in conjunction with Purdue University and Virginia Tech, is studying the “decision-making process by authorities and families” alike, as to whether evacuation is necessary, NDSU reported.

“The aim of the four-year study is to learn how and why residents choose to evacuate. The researchers will examine the variables that enter into a difficult decision that have life or death consequences,” the Forum reported.

NDSU reported “more than 11 million people are in harm’s way, and many of them have difficult decision to make” as to whether they are staying or evacuating.

The colleges will conduct a survey with operation meteorologists and will also conduct a hurricane simulation on the internet afterwards.

“The total effort is funded through a four-year $2.475 million National Science Foundation Hazards Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability, known as SEES, grant to study the role of uncertainty in hurricane evacuation decision-making” NDSU reported.

Hurricane Matthew will be the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. since 2005.  NDSU reported “back in 2005, Twitter didn’t exist and Facebook was just getting started.” The NDSU team is studying how social media and networks are being used to provide information about the path of the storm.

WDAY reported “there are some implications for us as well, just generally speaking about people’s behavior in front of a major emergency events.” The hope is the findings could assist in other evacuation situations and not just hurricanes.

Daniel J. Klenow, professor of emergency management and senior personnel on the grant, “will conduct telephone interviews with emergency management personnel in the coastal jurisdictions to learn the decision-making processes prior to, during and after hurricane evacuations,” NDSU reported.

Amanda Savitt, graduate research assistant, “will send out a post-hurricane mail survey to about 5,000 affected households to discover how they made decisions and what factors were in play,” NDSU reported. The survey will collect data on family decisions about evacuating and how social networks influenced their decisions on the logistics of evacuation including when to leave, where to go, how to get there and which route they would take.

Public officials will also be interviewed to learn how evacuation orders were made.

Last November was the start of the research project. With no hurricanes reaching the U.S last year, Hurricane Matthew will provide the first research opportunity for the team.

Hurricane Matthew has been classified as a category four storm, with winds up to 155 miles per hour. At least 33 are dead and flooding is a continued threat. When Hurricane Matthew hit the U.S. it was a category four and the further it moved up the east coast the more it lost momentum and was downgraded to a category one storm when it left.

“Some places in Florida were asked to evacuate, while others didn’t have much of a choice, it was mandatory,” WDAY reported.

NDSU is the only college to offer emergency management doctoral degrees in the U.S.

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