Survivors Perceptions of Stakeholders and the 2009 South Pacific Tsunami

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose – Near-field tsunamis provide short warning periods of equal to 30 minutes, which can complicate at-risk individuals’ protective action decisions. In the face of a tsunami, people may turn to individuals such as friends, family, neighbors, or organizations such as the media to obtain warning information to help facilitate evacuation and/or to seek protection from the hazard. To characterize norms for protection action behavior during a near-field tsunami, the purpose of this paper is to explore American Samoan residents’ perceptions of four social stakeholder groups on three characteristics – tsunami knowledge, trustworthiness, and protection responsibility – regarding the September 29, 2009, Mw 8.1 earthquake and tsunami in American Samoa. Design/methodology/approach – The social stakeholder groups were the respondents themselves, their peers, officials, and media. Mean ratings revealed that respondents rated themselves highest for tsunami knowledge and protection against the tsunami but rated peers highest for trustworthiness. In addition, officials had the lowest mean rankings for all three stakeholder characteristics. MANOVA analyses found that there was a statistically significant overall effect for occupation status on respondents’ perceptions of the four stakeholder groups and characteristics. Findings – Employed respondents generally reported higher mean ratings for all stakeholder groups across the three characteristics than those that reported not having an occupation. Given the complexity of evacuation behavior, at-risk individuals may seek the assistance of other community members to support their protective action decisions. Originality/value – The information gathered from this study provides local emergency managers with useful data that could support future disaster resilience efforts for tsunamis.