Shoreline Residents Underestimate Storm Threat: Study

Even after Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy battered the Connecticut coast, a recent survey of 1,100 residents living along the shoreline shows that many underestimate storm threats.

"When we asked people, what's the most likely cause of injury or death in a hurricane, most people thought it was blown or falling objects from high winds. Turns out, most hurricanes cause injury or death from storm surge," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, which conducted the study.

During Irene and Sandy, many shoreline towns posted mandatory evacuation orders. The survey found only 21 percent of residents would leave their homes in a Category 2 hurricane, while 58 percent would leave if they were ordered to.

"Seventy percent of Connecticut residents don't even know that they live in an evacuation zone, as an example, which is kind of amazing, and likewise, three-quarters have never even seen an evacuation map, so they don't know how to get out if they need to," said Leiserowitz.

Some have said, however, they learned from the last two major storms and understand the importance of heeding the warnings.

"If they tell you to get out of here, you should get out of here," said Shelton resident Dave Youngquist.

New Haven Deputy Emergency Management Director Rick Fontana said the city issued mandatory evacuations during the two storms. Some people left and others stayed.

He said the evacuations were for the safety of the residents and first responders, who wouldn’t have been able to reach flooded areas during an emergency.

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