Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Response: Evidence from Sales of Emergency Supplies Before and After Hurricanes

53 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2018

See all articles by Tim Beatty

Tim Beatty

University of California, Davis

Jay Shimshack

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

Richard Volpe

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

Date Written: July 5, 2018

Abstract

Government information warns households to acquire emergency supplies as hurricanes threaten and directs households to stay off roads after hurricanes make landfall. Do households follow this advice? If so, who, when, and how much? We provide novel evidence. We combine forecast and landfall data for U.S. hurricanes between 2002 and 2012 with extensive scanner data on sales of bottled water, batteries, and flashlights. We find that sales of emergency supplies increase when a location is threatened by hurricane. The bulk of the sales increases occur immediately prior to forecasted landfall. The average increase in sales after landfall is large and statistically significant. Observed emergency preparation as hurricanes threaten is moderately higher in coastal, wealthier, and whiter areas. Ex-post emergency responses after hurricanes make landfall are sharply higher in African American, lower income, and less educated areas. Our results suggest that households do not follow government advice.

Keywords: Natural Disasters, Hurricanes, Emergency Supplies, Information, Advisories

JEL Classification: H84, Q54, D12, Q58

Suggested Citation

Beatty, Tim and Shimshack, Jay and Volpe, Richard, Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Response: Evidence from Sales of Emergency Supplies Before and After Hurricanes (July 5, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3208765 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3208765

Tim Beatty

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Jay Shimshack (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy ( email )

235 McCormick Rd.
P.O. Box 400893
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4893
United States

Richard Volpe

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo ( email )

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States

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