Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Response: Evidence from Bottled Water Sales Before and After Tropical Cyclones

Timothy K.M. Beatty
Richard J. Volpe

This paper explores bottled water sales before, during, and after tropical cyclones. We focus on bottled water because local, state, and federal guidelines assert that bottled water is an essential emergency preparedness good. We match a panel of supermarket scanner data with tropical storm and hurricane information. We find that bottled water sales increase modestly in coastal areas as hurricanes approach. We find sharp increases in bottled water sales across impacted stores after hurricane landfalls. Risk, demographics, and prior experience with storms predict response heterogeneity and stockpiling behavior. Hurricanes have measurable market effects on water prices and product composition.