Evacuating Together or Separately: Factors Influencing Split Evacuations Prior to Hurricane Rita Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers. One of the long-held assumptions of evacuation research is that households constitute the basic unit for decision making and ultimately evacuation itself. Most disaster researchers collect their data and build their models around the assumption that household decision making and ultimately evacuation are undertaken as a single unit. Recently it has been suggested that family and household evacuation patterns may be undergoing change and that there is an increasing trend of households using more than one vehicle to evacuate. This study addresses these potential changes directly by focusing on the issue of whether households actually stay together when evacuating versus splitting with groups leaving at different times. This investigation of households evacuating due to Hurricane Rita revealed that 9.3% of households evacuated in multiple groups at different times, with nearly 17% of households in highly vulnerable areas such as Galveston, Texas, splitting compared with 7.3% among shadow evacuee households. The findings suggest that location in highly vulnerable areas, concerns about reaching destinations safely, income, and having multiple vehicles were important determinants of splitting, with additional sociodemographic factors displaying marginal significance as well. Consequences for future research, modeling, and data collection are discussed.

published proceedings

  • Natural Hazards Review

author list (cited authors)

  • Maghelal, P., Peacock, W. G., & Li, X.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Maghelal, Praveen||Peacock, Walter Gillis||Li, Xiangyu

publication date

  • May 2017