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Evanston, IL, United States

Steelman T.A.,University of Saskatchewan | McCaffrey S.M.,1033 University Place and 360 | Velez A.-L.K.,North Carolina State University
Natural Hazards

The communication system through which information flows during a disaster can be conceived of as a set of relationships among sources and recipients who are concerned about key information characteristics. The recipient perspective is often neglected within this system. In this article, we explore recipient perspectives related to what information was used, useful, and trustworthy in a wildfire context. Using a survey (n = 873) on five large wildfires in 2009 and 2010, we found significant gaps between the sources that were used by the most respondents and those that that they rated as useful or trustworthy. The sources that were used most before the fires were highly correlated with the sources that were used most during the fire. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

Stidham M.,Ohio State University | McCaffrey S.,1033 University Place and 360 | Toman E.,Ohio State University | Shindler B.,Oregon State University
Journal of Rural Studies

Within the wildland-urban interface (WUI), wildfire risk contains both individual and collective components. The likelihood that a particular home will be threatened by wildfire in any given year is low, but at a broader scale the likelihood that a home somewhere in the WUI will be threatened is substantially higher. From a risk mitigation perspective, individuals may take a number of actions to reduce risk exposure, but their risk is lowered even further when neighboring properties also take mitigation measures. Collectively, risk mitigation on individual properties lowers both individual and community-level risk. Multiple factors contribute to whether or not an individual will take action to reduce their risk; when an individual opts to not implement risk mitigation measures that would be beneficial from a community standpoint, community leaders can use a variety of policy tools to encourage the individual to adopt an action or change their behavior. As proposed by Schneider and Ingram in 1990, these include passing rules or regulations, building capacity, providing incentives, and establishing community norms. As part of a larger longitudinal study on WUI communities in the western United States, we reviewed approaches used by six communities in Idaho, Oregon and Utah to mitigate interdependent wildfire risk at two points in time. Each community's approach was different, being well suited to meet the community's specific needs. The most consistent policy tool utilized across communities was capacity-building, primarily through raising awareness of fire hazards and potential mitigation behaviors and leveraging external resources. Another commonality was the involvement of a central group or individual that provided leadership by initiating and championing the mitigation effort and serving as a link to external resources. There are a number of other communities in the WUI that are also at risk for wildfire; these findings can be useful to community members and agency personnel who are seeking to engage residents to reduce individual and collective risk. Within our communities, several different approaches have been effective at encouraging homeowners to adopt and maintain mitigation activities ranging from collective efforts organized locally to others developed externally to provide incentives or potential punishments for not adopting treatments. Understanding the diversity of approaches and activities that have fostered mitigation can help managers identify what will work best for their specific communities. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

McCaffrey S.,1033 University Place and 360 | Rhodes A.,Office of the Fire Services Commissioner | Stidham M.,Ohio State University
International Journal of Wildland Fire

Recent years have seen growing interest within the United States fire management community in exploring alternatives to the standard approach of evacuating entire populations that are threatened by a wildfire. There has been particular interest in what can be learned from the Australian approach, whereby residents choose whether or not to evacuate under the 'prepare, stay and defend or leave early' approach, also called Stay or Go. Given these developments, it is useful to understand what elements are taken into consideration by those who would be most affected by a new approach when they think through the pros and cons of mass evacuation v. an alternative strategy should a wildfire occur. This paper reports on findings from interviews in four communities in the United States where some alternative to mass evacuation during a wildfire was being considered. In each community, emergency responders and community members were asked for their perspective on the pros and cons of evacuation and the alternative being considered. The results show that opinions were mixed on whether evacuation or an alternative approach was more appropriate. Individuals who were primarily thinking of improving safety and reducing uncertainty for emergency responders tended to think mass evacuation was the best approach, whereas those who were primarily thinking of increasing safety and reducing uncertainty for homeowners were more likely to think that alternative responses were a valid option. These findings demonstrate the complicated nature of developing evacuation strategies that are beneficial to all parties involved. Journal compilation © IAWF 2015. Source

Eisenman D.,University of California at Los Angeles | McCaffrey S.,1033 University Place and 360 | Donatello I.,University of California at Los Angeles | Marshal G.,RAND Corporation

We studied the relationship between psychological distress and relative resource and risk predictors, including loss of solace from the landscape (solastalgia), one year after the Wallow Fire, in Arizona, United States. Solastalgia refers to the distress caused by damage to the surrounding natural environment and it has not been examined for its relationship to psychological health. Doing so opens avenues of research that inquire into how land management might be able to support improved community resilience and psychological health outcomes after a wildfire. In 2012, we conducted a household survey mailed to all 1387 households in the five communities surrounding the fire. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale assessed psychological distress. In the multivariate analysis, higher solastalgia score and an adverse financial impact of the fire were associated with clinically significant psychological distress. Annual household income ≥ $80,000 and a higher family functioning score were associated with less psychological distress. Part-time residents were no more likely to have psychological distress than full-time residents. We conclude that dramatic transformation of a landscape by an environmental event such as a wildfire can reduce its value as a source of solace. These results call for novel post-wildfire community recovery interventions that wed forest management and community psychology. © 2015 International Association for Ecology and Health Source

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