Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This dissertation presents research conducted during the hurricane seasons of 2017 and 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The research’s purpose was to assess citizen perceptions of evacuation support services offered during mandatory evacuation events. A prospective quantitative survey and qualitative, open-ended, semi-structured interview assessed perceptions. Both research methods were designed and assessed using the constructs of the Health Belief Model, a public health model created to assess perceived barriers, benefits, risks, severity, self-efficacy, and cues to action regarding health programming. Quantitative research yielded 211 surveys, representing opinions of New Orleans residents within 1-km Euclidian distance of an evacuation pick-up marker. Qualitative research yielded 20 interviews detailing perceptions of evacuation support in New Orleans across Evacuspot zones. Quantitative findings found that: social support systems influence decisions to evacuate and influence varies by race; gendered preference for evacuating in New Orleans is higher for males; pet ownership lowers evacuation preference; the elderly have a lower preference for evacuation; disability status does not impact evacuation preference; there is no association found in awareness of evacuation assistance programming by education level, but there is an association by race; there is no association found between homeowners and non-homeowners in self-reported evacuation compliance; and, trust in the City of New Orleans varies significantly by race and education level. Qualitative findings included perceived barriers of pet ownership, finances, age, anxiety, property ownership, traffic, lack of preparedness messaging, low levels of trust in city services, and misunderstanding of programming; perceived benefits of personal comfort; risk perceptions that were influenced by perceptions of city competency; low perceived self-efficacy to use evacuation programming; few local cues to action to utilize programming; and perceptions of severity influenced by x misunderstandings of the Saffir-Simpson scale. Results led to conclusions regarding the current prospective efficacy of City-Assisted Evacuation in New Orleans, and enabled recommendations for improving programming strategies. This research seeks to move evacuation behavior research from vulnerability-factor based research to multi-variable, intersectional, community informed assessment strategies, and contributes to literature on proactive emergency management strategies and expressed preference approach research.



Committee Chair

Colten, Craig