Despite Sandy's damage, many residents still unprepared - WFLA News Channel 8

Despite Sandy's damage, many residents still unprepared for hurricanes

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A new survey shows nearly two in three residents along the Gulf Coast are concerned that they are in harm's way from a hurricane or flood, the highest concern among four coastal regions in the country.

The survey by the American Red Cross and The Weather Channel, taken last month of 1,412 residents of coastal counties from Texas to Maine, found that among all coastal counties, 58 percent of the respondents were very or somewhat concerned they could be in harm's way of a hurricane in 2013. The 65 percent for Gulf Coast respondents was the highest, followed by 63 percent for the Southern Atlantic coast counties, 56 percent for New Jersey and New York coastal counties, and 43 percent for New England.

More than four in five (81 percent) of Gulf Coast county respondents said their family had been part of a hurricane, by far the highest percentage of the four regions, followed by the Southern Atlantic Coast (69 percent), and New Jersey/New York and New England, both at 58 percent.

Superstorm Sandy's destruction and devastation - the largest U.S. disaster in the past five years - was a motivation for greater preparedness this hurricane season, with the greatest impact in New Jersey and New York coastal counties.

The poll revealed that 49 percent of New York and New Jersey coastal residents surveyed said their Sandy experience has caused them to take more steps to prepare for hurricanes this year. In contrast, only about one in five coastal residents in the Gulf Coast (21 percent) and Southern Atlantic Coast (22 percent) said that Superstorm Sandy encouraged them to take more steps, compared to one in four (27 percent) New England coastal residents.

While Superstorm Sandy raised awareness of the need to prepare, overall the survey reveals little evidence that people in any of the coastal areas have actually taken the necessary steps, even as forecasters are predicting a busy 2013 hurricane season.

"Hurricane Isaac last August showed yet again how winds and storm surges can impact people in the Gulf region, and it's time for people here to get ready now for the 2013 hurricane season," said Linda Carbone, Regional CEO for Florida's West Coast Region. "People can create a family evacuation plan, get needed supplies and medications, and download a free Red Cross hurricane app."

Among those in Gulf Coast counties, 73 percent had emergency supplies of water, food and medicine, 71 percent had a small disaster kit, 59 percent had a family plan on how to communicate in an emergency, 50 percent had an established meeting place if family members were separated, 39 percent had practiced their emergency plan, 34 percent had taken First Aid or CPR training in the past five years and 29 percent had volunteered to help prepare for or respond to a disaster. About 11 percent had taken none of the preparedness steps.

More than one in three (36 percent) of Gulf Coast respondents say they live in an area likely to flood in a hurricane or heavy rain, the highest percentage in the four regions. About one in four (26 percent) of respondents in South Atlantic counties live in flood-prone areas; 21 percent of New York and New Jersey survey respondents; and 12 percent in New England counties.

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