With Hurricane Irene out of the way but Hurricane Katia gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico, residents of the U.S. East Coast can catch their breath – for now.
Approximate estimates of the damage inflicted by Irene clock in at about $40 billion – $20 billion in direct damage to homes and businesses, and another $20 billion stemming from lost productivity due to the storm.
But that’s just half the story. What Hurricane Irene revealed (and hopefully Katia won’t) is that Americans seem alarmingly unprepared for disasters.
That’s not just a gut feeling, it’s from an increasing amount of study data that’s rolling out this hurricane season. A new study from General Electric is the latest example.
Yes, the company sells generators and other emergency relief products, and thus has a stake in any study linked to emergency preparedness, but the numbers are alarming no matter who’s coming up with them.
To kick it off, GE concludes after interviewing 2,000 U.S. parents in August that 64% of American families don’t have a disaster survival plan, and don’t even own an emergency relief kit.
The study points out that having an emergency kit, and a family communication plan are the first two steps in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Ready Campaign” to-do list.
“Properly preparing for an emergency situation before it occurs goes a long way to ensure you and your family stay safe,” notes Carissa Gingras, marketing manager at Briggs & Stratton, which has an exclusive partnership agreement with GE Generator Systems.
GE says that in the U.S., certain areas fare better in how many of residents are prepared for disaster than others:
- West: 45%
- South: 39%
- East: 34%
- Midwest: 30%
Of course, each region fights its own demons and disasters, with drought and wildfires a big threat in the western states, tornadoes and massive flooding looming over the Midwest, and hurricanes and, further up the coast, snowstorms on the East coast.
The study also says that most Americans are doing a poor job with family communications, as 64% of survey respondents who leave their children with a baby sitter haven’t discussed a proper emergency response strategy. The good news is that 72% of parents have at least discussed such a strategy with their kids if not their babysitters.
Regardless, it looks like Americans have a lot to do to prepare for the next natural disaster. Let’s hope that Mother Nature co-operates, and gives them some time to get the job done.
Whether you were affected by Hurricane Irene or not, you may one day find yourself the victim of a natural disaster. For that, check out MainStreet's 7 Tips to File a Post-Irene Insurance Claim!