Using the Bioecological Theory of Human Behavior to Link Homeowners to Hurricane: Preparedness in the Southeast United States

November 2017 (VOL. 35, NO. 3)

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More than a decade passed without a major hurricane reaching landfall in the US until the unfortunate events resulting from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 (which is when this article was in final review). This suggests homeowners could have been feeling a false sense of security regarding hurricane preparedness. This study provides information about which populations might benefit from outreach programs, such as cooperative extension, designed to increase homeowner understanding of aid available to them when and if needed. Increasing hurricane preparedness in this way enables efficient distribution of resources because homeowners are more informed about how and where to obtain assistance. Relationships were assessed between homeowners’ location, education, income, age, presence of minors in the home, tenure within the community, and two measures developed by this study: the Hurricane-Preparedness Knowledge Scale and the Trust in Support Entities Scale. Findings showed that those having lived within the community longer were more interested in increasing their knowledge about hurricane preparedness. Respondents in Georgia were least interested in obtaining more knowledge about hurricane preparedness, but this was the one region where the study extended farthest inland from the coast. However, homeowners living in Georgia were less trusting of support entities (i.e., FEMA, Red Cross, county emergency management, and local governments) than their southern bordering states—a finding that should not be affected by proximity to the coast. Irrespective of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana showed no less trust in support entities than any other state throughout the area studied. Also, those with advance levels of formal education were less trusting in support entities than those with less education.