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Amber Silver and Jean Andrey

Abstract

The role of previous disaster experience as a motivating factor for protective action during high-risk events is still a matter of considerable discussion and inconsistent findings in the hazards literature. In this paper, two events that occurred in August 2011 in Goderich, Ontario, Canada, are examined: an F3 tornado that impacted the community on 21 August 2011 and a tornado warning that was posted for the region 3 days later on 24 August 2011. This case study provided the opportunity to examine the roles of previous disaster experience and sociodemographics on the decision-making process during two successive potentially tornadic events. The results of this research are based on close-ended questionnaires completed by individuals who experienced both storms or who experienced only the subsequent storm on 24 August 2011 (n = 177). Physical cues were found to be the primary motivator during the 21 August 2011 tornado, while the tornado warning was the primary motivator during the subsequent storm. Additionally, there was an increase in the percentage of individuals who took protective action on 24 August 2011 regardless of the respondents’ presence or absence during the 21 August 2011 tornado. Finally, none of the tested sociodemographic variables was found to be statistically significant for the 21 August 2011 tornado, while only gender (female) was found to be positively correlated with protective behaviors on 24 August 2011. These findings suggest that previous disaster experience (either direct or indirect) and sociodemographics intersect in a variety of complex ways.

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