Using geotagged tweets to track population movements to and from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Yago Martín, Susan L. Cutter, Zhenlong Li, Christopher T. Emrich, Jerry T. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


After a disaster, there is an urgent need for information on population mobility. Our analysis examines the suitability of Twitter data for measuring post-disaster population mobility using the case of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Among Twitter users living in Puerto Rico, we show how many were displaced, the timing and destination of their displacement, and whether they returned. Among Twitter users arriving in Puerto Rico after the disaster, we show the timing and destination of their trips. We find that 8.3% of resident sample relocated during the months after Hurricane Maria and nearly 4% of were still displaced 9 months later. Visitors to Puerto Rico fell significantly in the year after Hurricane Maria, especially in tourist areas. While our Twitter data is not representative of the Puerto Rican population, it provides broad evidence of the effect of this disaster on population mobility and suggests further potential use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-27
Number of pages24
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

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