HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads residents’ fears regarding shelter during a hurricane or flooding amid the COVID-19 pandemic have eased compared to last year according to a recent ODU study.

Old Dominion University’s Social Science Research Center (SSRC) recently completed data collection for the 12th annual Life in Hampton Roads (LIHR) survey which is used to gain insight into residents’ perceptions of the quality of life in Hampton Roads and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers counted a total of 796 online and telephone surveys were completed between July 12 and Oct. 3, 2021 for the study.

This year’s methodology differs from previous Life in Hampton Roads surveys due to concerns about COVID-19 and labor shortages which resulted in both telephone surveys and online panels.

The survey included several questions concerning how residents plan to prepare for and respond to hurricanes during the pandemic, with a special look at the role COVID may play in conditioning sheltering behavior.

In the study, researchers concluded that the changing climate and rising sea levels affect almost everyone in Hampton Roads, with some neighborhoods and communities experiencing it more acutely.

This year’s survey finds that nearly 23% of respondents state that recurrent flooding is a problem in their neighborhood.

The 2021 hurricane season at the time of the survey had been relatively quiet for Hampton Roads.

The hazards of remaining in coastal areas subject to intense winds and flooding are well-known – yet concerns about exposure to COVID may lead residents to remain in high-risk areas. 

Results from the study are below:

  • A third of the population would not consider evacuating while about half (49.6%) would consider evacuation
    • The percentage who would consider evacuation is similar to last year (45%)
  • Among those who would not evacuate, 21% stated that concerns about having enough cash or credit on hand to support the cost of evacuation weighed in the decision 
  • Nearly 54% said they would not seek a public shelter if evacuation were required
    • Among these, more than 38% cited fears about increasing exposure to COVID
  • 63% of respondents reported that they would not consider a public shelter
    • Amonth these, 70% of those citing concerns about COVID-19 exposure