After years of working in communities affected by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, Sustainable Long Island launched a Disaster Preparedness Program in 2015 through funding from State Farm Insurance. The focal point of this program was a Storm Readiness Assessment, an 18 question survey which collected data to determine if Long Islanders are better prepared for natural disasters since Superstorm Sandy.
Storm Readiness Assessment
- Sustainable Long Island conducted an island-wide study of residents in Nassau and Suffolk Counties to determine if Long Islanders are in fact better prepared since Superstorm Sandy. The study consisted of a comprehensive online survey, supplemented by in-person, direct intercept surveys to collect the data. The data collected focused on, but was not limited to: emergency kits and supplies, evacuation plans and strategies, and access to information or knowledge about what to do before, during, and in the aftermath of large-scale storms.
- All data gathered from the Storm Readiness Assessment was used to identify any gaps that exist in current levels of resident preparedness. To identify improvements that can be made moving forward, Sustainable Long Island shared this information with key leaders and decision makers, such as the American Red Cross, Nassau County Office of Emergency Management, Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management, NYS Office of Storm Recovery, NYS Office of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and Long Island Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.
Peer-to-Peer Education Meetings
- Through our many educational partnerships, Sustainable Long Island worked with high schools and Stony Brook University to disseminate education materials and resources on disaster preparedness, raising students’ level of awareness of existing disaster preparedness plans, evacuation routes, “go-packs,” safety protocols and resident and pet shelters to be used in times of disaster. One such resource was teaching students how social media use can help residents during times of disaster. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were heavily used during Superstorm Sandy as one of the only means of communication. Strategies such as updating individual statuses, interacting with local emergency personnel pages, and joining groups that serve as hubs of safety information, have the ability to keep hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders in the know. Students were encouraged to take the “Students Safe in Disaster” pledge, which promoted personal accountability and spurred proactive action to becoming better prepared for natural disasters.
The following results reflect the responses of the 426 Long Island residents that participated in this survey.
- Nearly half of survey participants indicated that they are somewhat prepared for an emergency which would require evacuation for three (3) days.
- 75% of survey participants indicated that they are very prepared or somewhat prepared for an emergency that would require sheltering in their home for at least three (3) days without power, phone, or other services.
- Almost two thirds of survey participants are more prepared now than they were in 2013.
- Half of Long Island residents surveyed have an emergency supply kit.
- Of the participants that do possess an emergency supply kit, more than 80% have a first aid kit and a flashlight. Fewer than 20% contain iodine tablets or unscented bleach.
- Over three quarters of Long Island residents surveyed do not have a Go Pack.
- Of the 22% of participants that do possess a Go Pack, more than 80% have a first aid kit. Fewer than 40% contain child care supplies, a small regional map, or contact and meeting place information for the household.
- 39% of participants survey feel that local/county/state organizations somewhat meet the relief/recovery needs of their neighborhoods.
- More than half of participants do not have copies of important documents in a safe place.
- One third of Long Island residents surveyed have a household emergency plan.
- 44% of participants are somewhat familiar with evacuation routes and shelter locations in their area.
- Most Long Island residents surveyed are not aware of what to do in the first five minutes after specific types of disasters.
- School-based drills are the most common drills among Long Island residents surveyed, as nearly half of participants have taken place in a school-based drill. Few residents (14%) surveyed have participated in a home based drill.
- Over half of survey participants believe that their community has a moderate possibility of occurrence regarding any type of disaster.
- Over 70% of survey participants believe Hurricane is the highest risk to their community, followed by Winter Storms and Extreme Cold (>60%) and Flood (> 50%). The lowest perceived risks include Earthquake, Landslides and debris flow, and Extreme heat was indicated as a moderate risk by 35% of participants, followed by Hurricane (33%) and Flood (32%)
- Nearly half of Long Island residents surveyed do not believe their expectation of assistance from emergency responders inhibits their individual preparedness.