Evacuation in Cancun During Hurricane Gilbert

March 1991 (VOL. 9, NO. 1)

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This paper describes the evacuation of the population of Cancun, Mexico during Hurricane Gilbert, and identifies some of the correlates of their evacuation behavior. The information was collected during a post-disaster visit conducted one week after impact (September 13, 1988) and as part of a survey a year later of a random sample of 431 persons 18 years old and older who resided in Cancun at the time of the disaster. One-fourth of the respondents evacuated. The majority of the evacuees found shelter in the homes of friends, neighbors, and relatives and were gone from their homes a week or less. Socio-demographic variables such as the number of persons in the household, gender, age, and marital status were not very useful predictors of evacuation behavior. Lower socioeconomic status (SES) and higher numbers of family contacts did not increase the probability of evacuation. The findings underscore the importance of calculations of risk for understanding evacuation behavior. The environmental context and physical characteristics of residences are significant variables impacting on the perceptions of risk and on subsequent evacuation behavior.