Choice and constraint during natural disaster evacuation: the case of Hurricane Katrina

David L. Brown, Cornell University
Brian C. Thiede, Cornell University

This paper uses data from the baseline year (2006) survey of Harvard Medical School’s Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group to examine evacuation behavior among the population affected by Hurricane Katrina across the US Gulf Coast. Our analysis centers on the question of whether non-evacuation reflected individuals' choices or social and economic constraints among persons who would have liked to evacuate. This study stands in contrast to previous research on Katrina and environment-related migration in general, which has been limited by comparing only evacuees and non-evacuees. Our approach yields the first evidence that some social groups were systematically less able to evacuate from their residences before the storm struck. We discuss the implications of these findings for research on environment-related migration, which is increasingly important in the context of global climate change.

Presented in Session 86: Climate change: vulnerability, adaptation, and migration