Semester of Graduation

Fall 2021

Degree

Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Extreme heat is the deadliest weather hazard in the U.S. Flooding is the second worst, and flash flooding is the deadliest form of flooding. The nature of these flood deaths contains a human element that deserves greater study. Since 2004, the National Weather Service has attempted to educate the public with its slogan, ``Turn Around Don’t Drown". Vehicle related mortality rates in Texas since 1996 were examined to answer the question of whether ``Turn Around Don’t Drown" has been effective. The slogan has a large footprint on the social media platform Twitter, with most of the Tweets coming from private individuals that are retweeting official sources such as the National Weather Service and the Texas Department of Transportation. Despite this, there is not a convincing amount of evidence that the slogan has reduced deaths from people driving into floodwaters. Most of the deaths in Texas are occurring in the largest cities. Harris County, home to the states’ largest city Houston, had the most vehicle related deaths. The study timeline contains the entire lifespan of Turn Around Don’t Drown, but regression models were not able to show any significant trend in vehicle related death rates since 1996. Also, there was no evidence of any significant correlation between time and death rates. There remains some hope that the slogan or other education strategies are effective in Dallas. The states’ second largest city, Dallas flooded more times than Houston, but suffered almost seven times less vehicle related deaths.

Committee Chair

Trepanier, Jill C.

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