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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute

Don't Rock the Boat: An Analysis of Boat Mitigation Prior to Hurricane Landfall

Jessica M. Brugh

Advisor:  Dr. Susan L. Cutter



Tropical cyclones are one of the most destructive and costly natural hazards in the United States. Boat owners and marinas are uniquely impacted by these devastating events. Boats pose a substantial monetary loss to owners unable to evacuate or mitigate damage prior to hurricane landfall, and the time it takes to secure them may impact a household’s ability to evacuate in a timely manner. The purpose of this study is to examine the physical and social variables that influence an owner’s decision, as well as how this decision affects the household’s ability to evacuate and the timing of that evacuation. This was done through quantitative and qualitative methods – specifically, surveying boat owners at a marina in Charleston and Georgetown and semi-structured interviews with Charleston marina and boatyard managers. The survey was a self-administered questionnaire designed by the researcher, and the interviews were based on questions derived from NOAA’s manual, “Hurricane Preparedness: Guidelines for Marinas” (2002). Findings indicate that storm magnitude and landfall location significantly influence boat mitigation likelihood, and certain social variables like frequency of boat use and boat type also influence mitigation. Boat mitigation’s impact on evacuation timing is quite varied but does not seem to have a substantial impact. Finally, the qualitative data collected from the interviews provided crucial information to help explain the survey data and showed that both expensive and lower-cost marinas have effective hurricane plans. This will be influential to emergency mangers and insurance companies – who are financially invested in the protection of boats and marinas.