Are we prepared for another Sandy? Rutgers study surveys most vulnerable
Superstorm Sandy was so harsh, along with the weather that followed, many New Jerseyans refuse to be unprepared for disaster ever again.
In a study of nearly 600 low-income individuals in the counties most heavily damaged by Sandy in 2012, Rutgers found most survivors intend to be proactive ahead of the next major storm in order to protect themselves and their families.
"When Sandy came along, people were not very concerned," said lead researcher Joanna Burger. "Only about 20% of the people expressed to us that they had concerns or that they had prepared very much for the storm."
The lack of urgency then, Burger said, may be linked to Hurricane Irene the year prior, which was not as severe as predicted at the shore.
But Sandy made up for that, after many residents failed to heed evacuation orders.
"In the two weeks following, a lot of people were living in houses that had no electricity ... And suddenly, the temperatures plummeted and it snowed," Burger added.
Today, 65% of economically vulnerable Sandy survivors plan to active steps if, or when, another Sandy may arrive.
"It's just a matter of time." Burger said. "People came away with the idea that if they say there's another storm coming, I'm either going to evacuate or I'm going to prepare."
June 1 marks the start of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.
The study, published via Wiley Online Library, also noted that emergency response agencies can be a major help by working with these communities to learn about specific needs, such as transportation issues.
"When governments create disaster response strategies, it is essential that they understand how people in affected communities will actually prepare for and experience these events," Burger said.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.