In America, who are least likely to respond to calamities such as wildfires, flood or storm? A recent study has answer to this. The researchers found that Asians, African Americans, households led by women, those with young children (under 18), renters and those of poor socio-economic status were less likely than others to be at least minimally prepared for disasters.
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction published the study.
On the study, lead author Smitha Rao, who is associate professor of social work at The Ohio State University, said that people in these categories need special attention prior to disasters to ensure that they have the resources required to respond.
“Focusing on vulnerable groups, understanding their specific barriers, and connecting them to resources within the community are key strategies to ensure no one is left behind when disaster strikes,” Rao said.
Fiona Doherty, a doctoral student in social work at Ohio State and Samantha Teixeira, associate professor of social work at Boston Collegeare the co-authors.
The researchers used data from the 2018 Federal Emergency Management Agency National Household Survey. They picked 4,743 respondents from all around the nation made up the survey’s nationally representative sample.
For the study, the researchers considered people ‘minimally prepared’ if they had the most essential elements necessary for immediate evacuation or sheltering in place for three days. These included emergency funds, access to supplies to get through three days without power or running water, and access to transportation.
“It really is just the minimum. We should all have a ‘go bag’ with non-perishable foods, important medications, a flash light, and some emergency cash,” she said.
The researchers also looked at the socio-cognitive factors, associated with preparedness.
In the study, the researchers found that those who had less confidence in their personal ability to act in the face of an emergency were minimally prepared. They noted that confidence was an important aspect of being prepared. Rao said that they could not tell how much confidence these people have in them that the government institutions would help them when necessary. “Socially vulnerable groups that were less likely to be minimally prepared also lack confidence in institutions that are supposed to help during disasters,” Rao said.
The researcher also said that it was quite unlikely that the people who are struggling to meet day-to-day needs often have the ability and resources to plan for disasters.
They also find that those survey participants who had received information related to disaster preparedness within the last six months were more likely to be prepared. However, they found that 56 per cent of the respondents reported not receiving any information on preparedness in the past six months. As such, the researchers note that this was an important area that needs attention.
Meanwhile, American president Joe Biden said that his government was committed to strengthening disaster resilience and continue strong partnerships with State, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders. “Every part of this Nation faces the threat of disasters, and while many emergencies are unpredictable, we know that the most vulnerable among us often bear the most significant impacts. When extreme weather destroys homes, families with less savings are more prone to housing insecurity. When pandemics arise, individuals without access to health care are more liable to become sick or face financial hardship. For the future of all Americans, my Administration is committed to strengthening our disaster resilience and continuing our strong partnerships with State, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders,” he said on August 31, 2022.