Evacuation notices have been going out to those who are in the path of Hurricane Irene, but some folks refuse to budge, and some people are unable to flee.
One group of people who are unable to escape the storm are prisoners on Rikers Island, a facility in the path of the storm, and built on landfill, which makes it more vulnerable to violent winds and torrential rain. New York Mayor Bloomberg has angrily stated, when pressed, that no prisoners or prison staff would be moved to safer locations.
Those who refuse to, or feel they cannot, evacuate have decided to "ride out the storm" as best they can.
Why do they not evacuate and find safer ground outside the path of Hurricane Irene?
There seem to be a variety of reasons, depending on the personality or the circumstances of the person. Some of these rationales are ridiculous, while others are sad and tragic.
(1) They don't trust city officials, law enforcement, or mass media, and therefore, think the storm warning is an overblown joke.
(2) They are generally foolish and typically do not heed any precautions related to health, exercise, diet, smoking, obesity, or other problems.
(3) They have an inflated sense of self-reliance and would rather die than seek help and shelter from others.
(4) They like to flirt with disaster and engage in daring, risky behaviors for the adrenalin rush of being close to death.
(5) They are extreme storm chasers and like being close to overwhelming natural forces.
(6) They fear looters and vandals, and thus, wish to protect their material possessions even if it means putting themselves in danger of drowning and other calamities associated with hurricanes and flooding.
(7) They have survived previous hurricanes without abandoning their homes, so they think their luck will hold out this time too. These people are often called "hurricane riders".
(8) Their employer is demanding that they report to work in the midst of the brunt of the storm, so they feel they have no choice but to stay home and go to work.
(9) They believe in fate, and think that when it's time for them to die, they will die, and are thus invulnerable until that pre-arranged time for their departure. This is sometimes linked to a fervent religious faith.
(But the Bible and sacred texts of other faiths clearly state that we are to be wise, not foolish. We are to actively participate in our survival and not be lazy or reckless and chant "what will be, will be". This breeds passivity and disrespect for life.)
(10) They have no money or transportation and can't afford the gas, food, and hotel expenses involved in evacuating their homes.
(11) They are themselves, or have family members who are, too feeble, old, or sick to evacuate.
(12) They are in the United States illegally, and fear being deported and separated from their families during the evacuation process.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Health with Hurricane Katrina survivors who did not evacuate describes the types of reasons people did not heed the storm warnings.
The factors that influenced evacuation response were magnitude of the storm, proximity of the storm to respondent, elected official decrees, and past hurricane encounters.
Other authors have shown that a response to emergency warnings is impacted by the family’s preparation for emergencies, having children, consistency and clarity of the warning message, and (female) gender of the respondent.9
Predictors for non-compliance with evacuation requests are surviving past hurricane encounters, work responsibilities, optimism concerning outcome,6 being a racial/ethnic minority, crime and fear of property loss, and lack of credible information on a storm or disaster.