Households' immediate Responses to the 2009 American Samoa Earthquake and Tsunami

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This study used variables from the Protective Action Decision Model to guide data collection about 262 residents' responses to the 2009 Samoa M8.1 earthquake and tsunami. The results show that earthquake shaking, combined with knowledge that this can cause a tsunami, was the most common source of first awareness about a possible tsunami and that broadcast media were the most common first social sources of warnings. Radio was an important source of additional information, as were face-to-face contacts and phone calls. Contrary to previous research, few of the recommended elements of a warning message were communicated to those at risk and none of these message elements was significantly correlated with evacuation. Nonetheless, two thirds of coastal residents and half of inland residents began evacuations within 15. min after the earthquake. Those who had participated in earthquake hazard awareness meetings had higher risk perceptions but were no more likely to evacuate to higher ground or evacuate promptly. This study's results are broadly consistent with previous findings on disaster response but raise a number of unresolved questions about behavioral response to rapid onset disasters.