Journal of Geography  & Natural Disasters

Journal of Geography  & Natural Disasters
Open Access

ISSN: 2167-0587


Assessing Disaster Preparedness of Officials and Residents in Two North Carolina Counties

Elizabeth Shay, Tabitha Combs, David Salvesen, Diane DeTrizio and Jennifer A Horney

Emergency management professionals devote significant expertise and resources to preparing for emergencies through planning and exercises. Despite this preparation by professionals, residents are often unprepared for emergencies and unfamiliar with recommended practices. This is a concern particularly for those who are socially vulnerable, such as the elderly, those without transportation, or those who speak English less than well. To improve understanding of this gap in disaster preparedness, we interviewed emergency managers and others with professional knowledge about emergency preparedness and management at the Country level. Findings were validated by surveying households to gather information about services and information received from officials before, during, and after emergencies. Results suggest emergency managers are aware that improved communication with residents could improve preparedness. Residents cite clear priorities in the types of information they want from emergency managers, including where and when to evacuate, how to maintain safe water and sanitation during a disaster, and how to prepare their property for a disaster. Attention should be given to identifying vulnerable groups and providing them with information about preparing disaster plans and related topics.