Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Noncompliance Again

A follow-up to this post from May regarding noncompliance with evacuation orders:

A recent survey by the Harvard School of Public Health, conducted in June and July, found similar results in states that are susceptible to hurricanes:

According to a new survey of people in high-risk hurricane areas conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health Project on the Public and Biological Security, one-third (31%) of residents said if government officials said they had to evacuate due to a major hurricane this season, they would not leave. This is an increase from 2006 when 23% said they would not evacuate.

The survey was conducted in eight states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas—and only included residents of counties within 20 miles of the coast.

Three-quarters (75%) say their home is well-built and they would be safe there. Over half (56%) feel that roads would be too crowded, and slightly more than one in three (36%) feels that evacuating would be dangerous. One-third (33%) worry that their possessions would be stolen or damaged while one in four (27%) say they would not evacuate because they do not want to leave their pets.
Individual state data are here.

There is some key information that can help the even those who choose to stay, however. Many people are simply not prepared to live for any length of time without basic services such as water and power:
If running water were cut off due to a hurricane, one in four (23%) would run out of clean water after two days, and over half (54%) would run out after six days. If power were shut off, one in ten (9%) would be without food after two days, and nearly half (44%) after six days.

A large majority of people would be at risk of eating food that has spoiled due to a loss of refrigeration in a power outage. The USDA recommends that perishable food should not be eaten if refrigeration has been turned off for four hours. Only one in five (20%) knew that perishable food would be safe for just a few hours. One in three (36%) said that food is safe for up to one day, one in four (25%) said two days, and 16% said three or more days. In addition, one in five did not know that each household member requires at least one gallon of clean water per day, the amount recommended by the CDC.
It is reasonable to speculate that these numbers may be even worse in areas that are susceptible to other, less frequent disasters (e.g., earthquakes).

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