Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Survey Research Center at IUPUI, recently asked Hoosiers about their level of preparedness in a survey. The survey, which asked a series of questions regarding preparedness plans and resources, received thousands of responses. A preparedness score was derived from a formula that assigns a numerical value to each response in order to compare the level of preparedness based on multiple variables, including urban versus rural, county, and IDHS district.
Urban versus Rural Preparedness
One of the most compelling findings from the survey was the difference in the level of preparedness between urban and rural areas. Based on the preparedness score, responses showed that rural areas were nearly 12% more prepared than those from urban areas. One of the largest differences between urban and rural populations was in regard to home emergency evacuation plans. Based on the results, residents in rural areas are 28% more likely to have a home evacuation plan than those in urban areas. The only question where urban residents scored higher than their rural counterparts was concerning preparedness kits; urban residents reported owning a preparedness kit 2% more than rural residents.
Figure 1 shows that many of the most populous counties came in with some of the least prepared. Four of the five most populous counties in Indiana (Marion, Lake, Allen, and Hamilton) scored in the “lower preparedness” category. The populous counties that did not follow the trend (St. Joseph, Elkhart, Vanderburgh, Porter, and Tippecanoe) are located along large rivers (Wabash, St Joseph, Ohio, and Kankakee) which have the potential for major flooding.
Preparedness by Region
Another compelling discovery from the data showed the regional differences in overall preparedness levels. Three of the four highest scoring districts, based on IDHS districts, were in the northwest portion of Indiana. Figure 1 shows a map of Indiana separated by counties and district. More than half of the counties that scored in the “higher preparedness” categories were located in districts one, two, and three, with district 2 receiving the highest overall score. Additionally, a pattern of clustering is clearly evident in multiple areas of the state; the Interstate 69 corridor from Marion to Allen County shows a relative low level of preparedness.
Impact of Past Disasters
One question asked Hoosiers if they had been forced to evacuate their homes due to a natural disaster. Six percent of respondent said they had been forced to evacuate in the past. Those who said yes to this question were more than 27% more likely to own a fully stocked preparedness kit and more than 23% more likely to have a home evacuation plan than those who had never been forced to evacuate their home from a natural disaster.
Public Safety Official Survey
A second survey was administered for members of Indiana’s public safety community. Respondents represented a wide variety of public safety fields, including fire, police, emergency management, emergency medical services, government, and military. This survey provided a contrast to the survey for the general public by assessing how public safety officials perceive the preparedness of the citizens in their community.
According to the responses, only 24% of public safety officials believe their community is adequately prepared for a major disaster. When asked if they believed citizens were aware of all potential disasters that could occur in the area, only 23% of public safety officials said citizens were aware. More than a quarter of the officials surveyed had been involved in a large scale disaster response where residents were forced to evacuate their home.
Preparedness Level by County and District (Figure 1)