A new survey shows that New Englanders are the least concerned about hurricanes and flooding – and the least prepared – among coastal counties along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
The survey by the American Red Cross and The Weather Channel, taken earlier this month of 1,412 residents of coastal counties from Texas to Maine, found that among all coastal counties, 58 percent of the respondents were very or somewhat concerned they could be in harm’s way of a hurricane in 2013.
The 43 percent concern level for New England coast respondents was the lowest of the four regions, while the Gulf Coast led the group at 65 percent, followed by 63 percent for the Southern Atlantic coastal counties, and 56 percent for New Jersey and New York coastal counties.
Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) of New England county respondents said their family had been part of a hurricane or flood, tied with the New Jersey/New York area for the lowest level. The Gulf Coast was the highest percentage of the four regions at 81 percent, followed by the Southern Atlantic Coast at 69 percent.
Superstorm Sandy’s destruction and devastation – the largest U.S. disaster in the past five years – was a motivation for greater preparedness this hurricane season, with the greatest impact in New Jersey and New York coastal counties.The poll revealed that 49 percent of New York and New Jersey coastal residents surveyed said their Sandy experience has caused them to take more steps to prepare for hurricanes this year.
In contrast, only about one in four coastal residents in the New England (27 percent) said that Superstorm Sandy encouraged them to take more steps, compared to Gulf Coast (21 percent) and Southern Atlantic coastal residents (22 percent).
While Superstorm Sandy raised awareness of the need to prepare, overall the survey reveals little evidence that people in any of the coastal areas have actually taken the necessary steps, even as forecasters are predicting a busy 2013 hurricane season.
“While New England was not at the epicenter of the storm, Hurricane Sandy showed yet again how winds and storm surges can impact people in New England, and it’s time for people here to get ready now for the 2013 hurricane season,” said Maria White, CEO of New Hampshire Region. “People can create a family evacuation plan, get needed supplies and medications, and download a free Red Cross hurricane app.”
Among those in New England coastal counties, 66 percent had emergency supplies of water, food and medicine, 56 percent had a small disaster kit, 43 percent had a family plan on how to communicate in an emergency, 29 percent had an established meeting place if family members were separated, 31 percent had practiced their emergency plan, 31 percent had taken First Aid or CPR training in the past five years and 17 percent had volunteered to help prepare for or respond to a disaster. About 15 percent had taken none of the preparedness steps, the highest figure among the four regions.
About one in 10 (12 percent) of New England coastal county respondents say they live in an area likely to flood in a hurricane or heavy rain, the lowest percentage in the four regions.
Other key overall survey findings include:
- Local TV news remains the most popular source of emergency information (94 percent), followed closely by The Weather Channel (85 percent).
- Smart phone apps are providing coastal residents with new ways to prepare for emergencies, and 14 percent have downloaded a smart phone app that could help them in emergency situations.
- One in five households now has member with a health issue or disability. A quarter of those households are not confident they have a plan to meet these medical needs in an emergency.
The Red Cross and The Weather Channel urge everyone to update their family evacuation plan, emergency preparedness kit and get better prepared for this hurricane season:
- Create an emergency preparedness kit with food and water, and other basic supplies for each family member to last at least three days. Remember to include essential medications, copies of important documents and special items for children and pets.
- Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate. Coordinate with your child’s school, your work and community’s emergency plans.
- Be informed about what disasters or emergencies may occur where you live, work, play and pray, and how to respond as safely as possible. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information.
Red Cross and Weather Channel resources and tools can help make preparedness easier:
- Download any of the Red Cross free disaster-specific mobile apps—particularly the Hurricane and First Aid apps—to get lifesaving preparedness information in the palm of your hand before and during emergencies. Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.
- Download The Weather Channel app and log on to weather.com for accurate and up-to-the-minute severe weather reports in your community. Visit the "Safety and Preparedness" section of weather.com for life-saving information including videos, tools and tips to help you prepare for a weather emergency.
- Use the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program (readyrating.org). It’s a free, web-based program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools to become better prepared. Members complete a self assessment of their current readiness level and receive immediate, customized feedback with resources to improve preparedness. First Aid Emergency Drills help businesses train their staff for emergencies and disasters.
- View free checklists at redcross.org/preparednessfastfacts.
When severe weather strikes, no network is more dedicated to keeping people safe and prepared than The Weather Channel. With over 200 meteorologists delivering expert tracking and round-the-clock reporting, The Weather Channel keeps you informed in the event of a weather disaster.
More on what to do before, during and after a hurricane: Hurricane Preparedness
An infographic on the survey findings can be viewed here: Hurricane Infographic
Telephone survey of 1,412 U.S. adults 18 years and older residing in coastal counties from Maine to Texas. Survey conducted in May 16-22, 2013 by Issues and Answers. Margin of error is +/-2.6 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
- New England Coast (Connecticut to Maine): 403 respondents
- Gulf Coast (Texas to west coast of Florida): 300 respondents
- Southern Atlantic Coast (East coast of Florida to Delaware): 303 respondents
- New Jersey/New York Coast: 406 respondents
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/nh or visit us on Twitter at @NHRedCross.
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