Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography & Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience

Spring 2020 Seminar Series

"In the Aftermath of Hurricane IrMaria in the U.S. Virgin Islands: Disaster Myths, Media Frames, and Protective Action Behavior"

Virginia Commonwealth University

Monday, March 23, 2020
3:30 PM
Conference Center, Innovation Research Building II
4211 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23508


In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria (IrMaria), there was a proliferation of media reports depicting mass looting and criminality in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, government officials and numerous stakeholders contradicted these reports. The implications of such criminality would negatively influence household public sheltering and evacuation behavior. This study utilized a mixed-methods approach to investigate the human environment of post-IrMaria and the veracity of these looting claims in the U.S. terrority. Post-disaster field interviews provided qualitative data and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports provided longitudinal statistical data. Findings reveal a pro-social communal environment in the immediate aftermath of IrMaria. Fears of looting did not affect sheltering behavior, but a low-risk perception due to previous false alarms did have an impact of protection action behavior.


Dr. Hans Louis-Charles is an Assistant Professor in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At VCU, Dr. Louis-Charles teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level courses in the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program. Dr. Louis-Charles conducts applied and theoretical research focused on human and organizational behavior in disaster for the purpose of better-informed policy and practice in the field of emergency management. His research utilizes a mix-methods approach with an emphasis on post-disaster field research and the application of geographic information systems. His research has examined household preparedness and protective action behavior during an imminent threat scenario, legacy pollutants impact on vulnerable populations, and population displacement and environmental migration policy. His publications have appeared in the International Journal and Disaster Risk Reduction, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Environmental Justice, Sustainability: A Journal of Record, and Communications Review.

Reception before seminar at 3:00 PM

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