By Libby Lewis, CNN
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(CNN) – When it comes to how people react in disaster situations, be it the recent tornadoes in the Southeast or the killer tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri in 2011, some people just don't listen.
It happened with Hurricane Katrina. It happened with Hurricane Sandy.
Thousands of people who were told to evacuate – DIDN’T.
So, what were they thinking?
Geographer Susan Cutter makes a living examining the answers to questions like that.
She’s based at the University of South Carolina.
Was it because people didn’t take Sandy seriously after the over-hype with Hurricane Irene the year before? Or because they didn’t have family or friends to escape to? Because they waited too long – after public transportation shut down?
Or maybe it was because they had a cat or a dog?
[1:10] "Because you can’t take your pets to a public shelter. Pets are part of the family and for elderly they ARE the family, right?" Cutter says.
She says these questions are important to answer. And she says they will be, with studies of Hurricane Sandy.
[1:26] "The top-down military model, 'I tell you to evacuate and you leave,' doesn’t work anymore. Because people are making their own judgments. So the best approach is to recognize how people may make decisions – how they may behave in evacuations – and develop plans that accommodate that."
Listen to our full story to hear some of the lessons learned from studying how people made decisions during the Joplin tornado.