Monday, September 10, 2018 - 11:30

Will repeated exposure to vivid scenes of natural disaster – Western wildfires, a global heat wave, Hawaiian volcano eruptions, the 2017 hurricanes’ anniversary and a suddenly active 2018 season – finally turn America into a go-bag nation, prepared for calamity and ready to flee it?

Experience counsels skepticism. So does human nature. 

Experience counsels skepticism. So does human nature. 

The sight of a 30-story-high wave of fire consuming a Colorado subdivision, or a California “fire tornado” as long as three football fields, may rivet a national audience. But it probably won’t change national attitudes about how to prepare for an emergency or when to evacuate.

Experts say people aren’t really motivated by disaster until it comes to, or through, their door. “I don’t know what it’ll take,’’ says Jay Baker, a retired Florida State University geographer who has studied evacuation behavior, “but disaster scenes are not enough.’’

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