Residents along the coast regions in South Carolina are receiving a mail surveys about their hurricane evacuation behavior in an attempt to help the state better prepare for hurricanes.
Those in Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Georgetown, Horry and Jasper Counties are urged to respond to the surveys that were mailed out Monday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Emergency Management Division are funding the survey, which is being conducted by the University of South Carolina geographers. Dr. Chris Emrich, a research assistant professor with the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at USC says the survey seeks answers to several questions
Emrich says surveys conducted by mail usually have a 25 percent response rate.
Emrich says emergency management and law enforcement officials have been surprised during pervious weather-related emergencies by the unpredictability of residents who find themselves in an evacuation. He mentioned that officials were caught off guard during Hurricane Floyd after families took multiple cars and their boats, clogging the highways out of the Lowcountry.
Emrich says the survey will also ask people if they have pets, because in previous evacuation situations many residents did not leave their homes because they said they had no place to leave their animals.
Emrich points out that a person’s personal experience will also influence their behavior in emergency situations. He says during an evacuation order, persons likely will choose different routes and that can greatly affect traffic congestion. The survey will also ask residents how far will they go when they leave their homes, will they stay with relatives or friends or stay in a motel, and how much cash will they take with them.
Emrich says the information compiled from the survey will be shared with the Corps of Engineers and the EMD, along with other stakeholders. He adds the information will help in determining the best place to locate emergency shelters.
Emrich says the results of the survey will also be helpful in predicting how a multi-state evacuation from a major hurricane could affect the Palmetto State.