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Post-Sandy, Many Coastal Residents Still Unprepared for Hurricanes

Despite Sandy’s Damage, Many Coastal Residents Still Unprepared for Hurricanes.

John Miller, CEO, American Red Cross on Long Island, urges Long Islanders to prepare for hurricane season joined by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. (Photo: Craig Cooper)

Hurricanes Sandy and Irene should erase any doubt that Long Island is not vulnerable to coastal storms, and it’s time for people here to get ready now for the 2013 hurricane season.

Red Cross, Long Island officials urge residents to take action to prepare

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is now here and while Superstorm Sandy raised awareness of the need to prepare, a new survey reveals little evidence that people in any coastal areas have actually taken the necessary steps, even as forecasters are predicting a busy 2013 hurricane season.

To drive home the importance of preparedness on Long Island, officials from the American Red Cross, along with Long Island leaders including Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, held a press conference May 31 at Farmingdale State College.

“Hurricanes Sandy and Irene should erase any doubt that Long Island is not vulnerable to coastal storms, and it’s time for people here to get ready now for the 2013 hurricane season,” said John Miller, CEO, American Red Cross on Long Island. “Long Islanders need to create a family evacuation plan, get needed supplies and medications, and download the free Red Cross hurricane app.”

The survey by the American Red Cross and The Weather Channel polled 1,412 residents of coastal counties from Texas to Maine. The survey found that 56 percent of New York and New Jersey coastal respondents were very or somewhat concerned they could be in harm’s way of a hurricane in 2013.

However, the poll revealed that only 49 percent of New York and New Jersey coastal residents said their Sandy experience has caused them to take more steps to prepare this year.

“Given our location as an island left vulnerable to the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island is susceptible to the powerful and destructive nature of hurricanes, which is why it is important for every resident to be prepared,” said Mangano. “Don’t take any chances.”

In its 2013 hurricane season outlook, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an active or extremely active season this year. For the six-month hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, NOAA says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

Both county executives said that local emergency and public safety officials are prepared, and that lessons learned from past storms will be used to improve upon readiness; however, Long Islanders must be equally ready.

“When individuals are prepared, we can focus on clearing roads, restoring services and getting Long Island back on its feet,” said Bellone.

Among those in New York and New Jersey coastal counties, 62 percent had emergency supplies of water, food and medicine, 58 percent had a small disaster kit, 45 percent had a family plan on how to communicate in an emergency, 36 percent had an established meeting place if family members were separated, 29 percent had practiced their emergency plan, 30 percent had taken First Aid or CPR training in the past five years and 33 percent had volunteered to help prepare for or respond to a disaster. About 12 percent had taken none of the preparedness steps.

Other key overall survey findings include:

  • Local TV news remains the most popular source of emergency information (94%), followed closely by The Weather Channel (85%).
  • Smart phone apps are providing coastal residents with new ways to prepare for emergencies, and 14% 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 planned to meet these medical needs in an emergency.
  • The Red Cross and county executives 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.
  • 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.
  • More on what to do before, during and after a hurricane can be found at: redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane.

    Survey details:

    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 Jersey/New York Coast: 406 respondents
  • Gulf Coast (Texas to west coast of Florida): 300 respondents
  • Southern Atlantic Coast (East coast of Florida to Delaware): 303 respondents
  • New England Coast (Connecticut to Maine): 403 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 or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.