Hurricane Irma’s Impact on the Location of People and Places

Placed analyzed the location and visitation data generated by residents in the path of Hurricane Irma to gain insights into impacts of what has already proven to be an abnormally active storm season.

 

Foot Traffic to Businesses:  Areas impacted by Hurricane Irma saw quantifiable increases in visitation to grocery stores (2.1x), gas/convenience (1.7x), and pharmacy (1.7x) in the days before expected landfall of Irma. While these visits were expected, unexpectedly visits to Pet Food and Supplies retailers, Diet & Nutritionists businesses, and Sporting Goods stores also saw increased visitation between September 4th through the 7th.

 

Restaurant/QSR locations saw up to 3.7x visitation rates by September 8th as residents began evacuation, or conserved supplies by eating out up until the last minute.  Interestingly, Check Cashing locations saw upwards of 28X the visitation from prior to the hurricane, possibly due to banks being closed and power outages forcing cash only transactions. Wireless retailers also saw significant increases in visitation (1.5x-4x) before, during, and immediately following the storm.

 

Evacuations Before Landfall:  By mapping “away from home” percentages by city by day, we clearly see the alignment to evacuation notices as well as delayed returns for areas where Hurricane Irma caused extended power outages.

 

  • Evacuations Start (Average): 2 days before landfall
  • Population Returns (Average): 3 days after landfall, 5 days after landfall for areas with extended power outages

Distance Traveled:  The metric “distance traveled from home” indicates that the Sept 6th Hurricane Irma path projections, which placed the center of the storm traveling up the Eastern coastline, aligns with the first wave of residents of Miami and Naples opting to leave their home locations and travel distances averaging as much as 260 miles to escape the hurricanes cone of damage.

 

  • Shortest Average Distance Traveled (Pre-Land Fall): 32 miles, Tallahassee Residents
  • Longest Average Distance Traveled (Pre-Land Fall): 295 miles, West Palm Beach Residents

The September 7th announcement of mandatory evacuations for additional cities beginning Sept 8th initiated a second wave of residents departing with Ft Myers-Naples area seeing 73% of residents on the move.

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