Nags Head, N.C. – North Carolina state officials want to know more about why some people evacuate and others stay and ride out a storm when hurricane evacuations are ordered.
Over the next month, interviewers from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety will call hundreds of coastal residents to learn about past and future behavior when it comes to evacuations.
According to a release, the 15-20 minute calls will ask folks about past behaviors during hurricane evacuations, what concerns or constraints they have when it comes to evacuating as well as “perceived vulnerability” to hurricanes.
Hurricane Resources — Flood maps, Evacuation routes, wind scale, etc…
“Our primary mission is to get people out of harm’s way and keep them safe,” explained Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan. “Understanding how coastal residents receive evacuation information and then decide what to do with that knowledge will help us better plan for each storm and determine how best to coordinate and allocate our resources.”
In the Outer Banks, Dare County Emergency Management Coordinator Sandy Sanderson says one big factor that seems to contribute to storm evacuation decisions is the strength of the storm.
“Probably the most significant threat is the category of the storm. A category 2 storm – people feel like they can ride them out,” Sanderson explained. “Anything above a category 2, I think we get a better response from our local population.”
Typically the response from visitors to the Outer Banks tends to be higher than residents during mandatory evacuations.
“We have a good response from the visitors,” Sanderson explained. “Usually 98 to 100% of the visitors will leave once we have a mandatory evacuation.”
Sanderson says Dare County works closely with emergency management officials in Virginia when storms threaten, so that traffic does not become a major issue during an evacuation.
“We have to coordinate our evacuations with Hampton Roads and Virginia Emergency Management and we’re doing that early on. We’re usually talking 4 or 5 days out,” Sanderson explained. “We’re trying to manage that so we don’t intermingle with their traffic going 64 out to Richmond and those areas.”