Hurricane preparedness and sheltering preferences of Muslims living in Florida
Keywords:disasters, hurricanes, preparedness, shelters, evacuation, Florida, Muslims
Objectives: Given the increasing diversity of the US population and the continued threat of hurricane devastation along the heavily populated Gulf Coast region, the lack of research on preparedness and sheltering activities across religious or cultural groups represents a significant gap in the field of hazards and disaster research. To address this void, a questionnaire examining hurricane preparedness attitudes and sheltering preferences was administered to Muslims living in Tampa, Florida.
Design: An exploratory study using a cross-sectional survey of Muslim adults who were attending a religious or cultural event.
Setting: The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area and the Muslim American Society located in Tampa, Florida.
Participants: The final convenience sample of 139 adults had a mean age of 38.87 years (±11.8) with males and females equally represented.
Results: Significant differences were found in disaster planning activities and confidence in hurricane preparedness. Notably, 70.2 percent of the respondents were unsure about having a plan or were without a plan. Of the 29.7 percent who actually had a plan, 85.4 percent of those individuals were confident in their hurricane preparedness. This study also revealed that safety, cleanliness, access to a prayer room, and privacy were concerns related to using a public shelter during hurricanes. Nearly half of the respondents (47.4 percent) noted that the events of 9/11 influenced their comfort level about staying in a public shelter during a hurricane disaster.
Conclusions: Disaster planners should be aware of the religious practices of the Islamic community, encourage disaster planning among diverse groups, and address safety and privacy concerns associated with using public shelters.
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