Gas prices. Looting.

Image by flickr user GISuser.comImage by 20080725katrina.jpg A satellite view, courtesy of NOAA, shows Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005, as a Category 5 storm.

A recent poll asked people around the Southeast who live near the coast why they might not evacuate during a hurricane. According to The Post and Courier one-fourth of the respondents gave one of two answers: gas prices and looting.

The study was done by the Harvard School of Public Health, and you can check out the survey for yourself here. They also have state-by-state reports: Here's the one for South Carolina (Word document).

Essentially, a lot of people are saying they might not leave because because they don't think they'd be able to find the gas to evacuate, or because they think looters will strike if they leave. Many still remember the images that came out of New Orleans after Katrina of looting and general lawlessness.

From The Post and Courier:

The Lowcountry saw its share of looting and vandalism after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. And everyone is aware there are far more people and more high-dollar homes in the region today. But emergency officials aren't so sure the survey results are real life. And even residents who say they wouldn't leave have other reasons for the decision; they say they would leave if a storm were serious enough.


Cathy Haynes, Charleston County emergency preparedness director, said she hears from people who say they won't evacuate, but the cost of gasoline isn't a reason. Looting is always a concern. But emergency plans call for law enforcement to be out before and after a storm.


Charleston Police Maj. Herb Whetsell was on the force during Hugo, when former Chief Reuben Greenberg all but announced vigilante justice to keep looters in check. Any looting that takes place tends to be at businesses and malls "where it's easy to get in, get out and be gone. People who stay behind will take care of themselves and their neighbors," he said.

But, as expected, authorities still say you should evacuate, and they'll take care of things back home, when it comes to looting and so on. As far as gas availability, the P&C also adds this: "The state has contracted with distributors to supply fuel to stations in a pending evacuation ..."

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