As part of the Community Engagement office at EOS since 2010, Jamie McCaughey has worked with educators, policymakers, NGOs, and the Science Centre to link earth-science research to society. He earned Bachelor's (SUNY Geneseo) and Master's (University of Nevada, Reno) degrees in geology, then taught secondary earth science and biology in Reno and Boston before joining EOS.
For the people of mainland Aceh, the 2004 tsunami was not only devastating but also unprecedented in living memory. In this seminar I will present a set of studies on how the disaster, reconstruction, and new knowledge of tsunami risk have influenced societal vulnerability to coastal hazards.
The first study examined the question of where to rebuild after a disaster. We found that a policy to rebuild in-place near the coast, combined with many people's preferences to move to safer areas instead, has left the poor disproportionately exposed to coastal hazards.
The next studies examined evacuation behavior in a strong earthquake on 11-Apr-2012. We found that fear, not deliberative evaluation, influenced the likelihood of evacuation. Post-traumatic stress symptoms further increased the likelihood of evacuation, partly by increasing the level of fear. Despite the fact that the 2012 earthquake did not produce a tsunami, people would be willing to evacuate again if a similar earthquake were to happen in the future. We also found that people generally do not trust the safety of specially designed tsunami vertical evacuation buildings. Instead, they evacuate horizontally. This choice is influenced by friends and family, but not by official information, training, disaster knowledge, or panic.
The final study examined the role of religion in disaster preparedness. We found that people have woven together their religious views of disasters with scientific information that was widely disseminated after the 2004 tsunami. People believe deeply that their fate is ultimately in the hands of God, but also believe that it is an obligation of their faith to do their best to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe from hazards.