Reaching Vulnerable Populations in the Disaster-Prone US Gulf Coast

Communicating Across the Crisis Lifecycle

Published in: Journal of Emergency Management, Volume 17, No. 4, pages 271-286 (July/August 2019). doi: 10.5055/jem.2019.0426

Posted on on August 21, 2019

by Elizabeth L. Petrun Sayers, Andrew M. Parker, Rajeev Ramchand, Melissa L. Finucane, Vanessa Parks, Rachana Seelam

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Delivering risk and crisis communication to US Gulf Coast residents poses a unique challenge to individual and organizational responders. The region has endured several natural and man-made disasters, spanning Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and more recently Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In the future, the US Gulf Coast is expected to remain susceptible to a range of disasters. At the same time, the region is experiencing a growing population, struggles with systemic disparities between residents, and is home to major energy, tourism, fishing, and shrimping industries. Engaging in pre-crisis planning with vulnerable populations, and assessing response strategies, can help the region prepare for future disasters.

In support of understanding vulnerabilities in the US Gulf Coast, the authors conducted a survey in 2016 of n = 2,520 adult residents of the targeted geographic region. The authors examine how demographic characteristics affect communication channel preferences (ie, television, Internet, print [newspapers, magazines], radio, word-of-mouth, or another specified channel) and trust in sources (ie, the national news media, local news media, business leaders and organizations, religious leaders and institutions, academics and academic institutions, friends and family, and doctors) in the US Gulf Coast. Weighted prevalence estimates or similar summary statistics (mean, standard deviation) are provided for both outcomes.

Findings for channel preferences and trust in sources are examined by sex, race/ethnicity, age, and education. Weighted multinomial logistic regression is used in a multivariate model. Weighted linear regression is used to examine differences in trust in each source of information. Results highlight significant differences in channel preferences and trust across respondents. The authors also place these results in context to more readily accessible national estimates of these outcomes, emphasizing takeaways for the region.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.