Rumors during a natural disaster may facilitate greater evacuation — even when unnecessary
By Marcos Cabello
The study, published May 17 in Climate Risk Management, found that towns that didn't face significant damage after a disaster saw much more evacuation if they had low trust in government and strong social ties among people who are different from one another in terms of race, religion, class, gender or age. These findings show that governments need to build and foster trust with their citizens, especially in the face of catastrophe.
In unaffected communities following a disaster, stronger bonding and bridging ties seemed to facilitate the spreading of rumors during blackouts — rumors that encouraged people to pack up and move to an evacuation shelter.
The researchers emphasized that these findings highlight the need for government to be clear and transparent in its communications with the public and that governments need to foster trust during crises and disasters.
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