Will you stay or will you go?

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Nicaragua is the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and is also prone to natural disasters due to its location in the gulf between two continents. Nicaragua experiences hurricanes, flooding, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Due to the nation’s history with high exposure to natural disasters, the government has one of the best evacuation systems in Latin America (Lacey, 2007). The Executive Secretariat of the National System for the Prevention, Mitigation, and Attention of Disasters (SINAPRED) closely monitors potential threats and calls for evacuations when necessary. Some Nicaraguans refuse to leave their homes during these disasters, believing there is a great threat of having their homes looted during evacuations. Many families have a choice to make: do they evacuate and risk the possibility of losing everything that they own? Or do they stay and risk their lives to save their belongings?

While more recent reports of looting during natural disasters evacuation have been greatly exaggerated by the media and do not reflect the actual numbers, many rural families still refuse to evacuate their homes in fear of looters (Schellnhuber, 2008). After the devastating effects of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, where 11,000 people died and many of the homes left standing were robbed, many people do not want to risk losing everything again (Lacey, 2007). Most of the time, the male head of the household will stay behind in their house to protect against looters while the rest of their family evacuates to a shelter. In the North Eastern rural communities