Why some in Irene's way won't evacuate

Bad evacuation experiences can make some people believe that weathering a storm is preferable to the trauma of heading out of town, Klapow said. In 2008, during Hurricane Ike’s fury, as many as 140,000 residents ignored evacuation warnings in Texas, choosing to shelter in place. One contributing factor may have been the botched Rita evacuation. (Ike caused deaths and extensive damage across parts of the Caribbean and the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.)

If your house didn’t get destroyed, all of the information that’s feeding into your experience is, ‘Evacuation is horrific, my house didn’t get destroyed, so why would I go?'” Klapow said.

Some people stay because they’re very attached to their homes and possessions, Klapow said. Others who’ve survived earlier storms may conclude that they can handle anything that comes their way. That’s not necessarily true, Klapow said.

“If you rode out three storms, then all you know is that you rode out three storms,” he said.