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Department of Emergency Management


Press Release Detail

Monday, October 24, 2016  16:32

Issued: Monday, January 01, 1900  00:00

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY CITIZEN EXPECTATION SURVEY RESULTS Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Charles Wallace Deputy Director, Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Andrew Inocencio (Summer Intern) Student, Western Washington University December 2013 Citizen Expectation Survey Preliminary Results THE PRELIMINARY RESULTS HAVE BEEN TABULATED The preliminary results to the Grays Harbor County Citizen Expectation Survey have been tabulated. These preliminary county-wide survey results provide a basis to build stronger and more viable emergency and disaster plans, supporting all response agencies, local governments and the citizens of Grays Harbor County. In January 2014, more detailed results specific to each city and tribal nations will be released. We will also be able to supply results for the three regions of our county: the coast, mid county and East Grays Harbor County. Although not a scientific survey, the results fit into a 95% confidence level with a +/- 3 % error. WHY A SURVEY? Grays Harbor County Emergency Management received numerous inquiries and comments about site specific disaster and emergency situations in our cities and unincorporated areas of Grays Harbor County, many which have been contrary to all written emergency and disaster plans in existence. We began to worry that public education on emergency and disaster preparedness and actions was waning in all jurisdictions. Were these sporadic inquiries or did they represent questions and comments of a majority of citizens in our county? What if the unthinkable occurred? How would we communicate? Would citizens evacuate if told of impending danger? Would they know where to go for food, shelter or medical assistance? How prepared are our citizens and do they realize the impacts of each specific event upon their family, home and community? IN SEARCH OF THE ANSWERS This past summer, Grays Harbor County Emergency Management with the assistance of Western Washington University Senior and Aberdeen resident Andrew Inocencio, conducted a Citizen Expectation Survey to assess two main areas. One was to assess the educational needs throughout the county for emergency and disaster preparation. Second, and most important, was to assess the intentions and expectations of Grays Harbor County citizens during an emergency or disaster situation. The Grays Harbor County Citizen Expectation Survey was written, developed and launched in July 2013 and was completed just after Labor Day in September 2013. The responses far exceeded our expectations with over 1100 valid responses received from all areas of the county, including our neighboring tribal nations. RESULTS At Risk Populations: Families with children 5yrs and younger 14.18% Families with senior citizens 27.45% Families with at least one disabled member 13.36% Families with household pets 64.87% Non-English speaking members 0.27% SUMMARY - All of these populations raise questions for jurisdictions and response agencies. Will these specific populations need assistance during an emergency or disaster situation? In the event of an evacuation, do these citizens have the ability to leave? Do citizens need assistance or will many decide not to leave because of a pre-existing health condition or fear of separation from family or pets? There are numerous non-English speaking people in Grays Harbor County. A flaw of the survey was it didnt specifically target this audience. All non-English speakers are considered at risk in our county. HOW DO CITIZENS PRIMARILY RECEIVE STATE AND LOCAL NEWS AND INFORMATION? Internet 45.39% Television 36.99% AM/FM Radio 12.51% Newspaper/Magazine 5.11% SUMMARY - These numbers reflect our changing world including the use of social media. The internet is a primary place for most in the county to receive information. Television ranks high but it raises questions about the reliability of the disaster and emergency information for our county since we are 3 hours from both Seattle & Portland; the television hubs. AM/FM radio may be relied upon a great deal to relay site specific information to our communities. WHAT IS THE FASTEST AND SUREST WAY TO DELIVER EMERGENCY AND DISASTER NEWS AND UPDATES TO CITIZENS? Text - 44.83% Phone - 14.18% E-Mail 9.97% Television 9.06% Weather Radio 8.69% AM/FM Radio -6.86% Facebook 6.13% SUMMARY The results reflect how large an impact social media plays in our society. All emergency or disaster messages directed to the citizens must be sent using multiple means of communication. DOES YOUR FAMILY HAVE A FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN? YES 51.10% NO 48.90% Does your plan include a specific meeting area? - 31.39% Does it include ways to communicate and make contact with each other or others? 36.94% Does it include how and where to evacuate? - 35.98% SUMMARY- Only half of all citizens have a family emergency plan. This will quickly become problematic during any event where families are separated from one another. Of those who have plans, many do not include information on specific meeting areas, ways to communicate or how and where to evacuate. This is an indication they are not sure what to include in a plan and lead them to believe they are more prepared than they actually are. Questions arise whether it is from a lack of disaster and emergency education or citizen apathy and the feeling their family may be safe from specific incidents. DOES YOUR CHILDS SCHOOL HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN FOR DISASTER? YES 72.5% NO- 3% UNSURE 24.5% SUMMARY The predominant issue from this question is the number of unsure responses. Nearly 25% are not sure whether their childs school has a disaster plan. This relates directly with the prior question on family emergency plans. If an event occurs when the family is separated, this will add to the confusion and stress of the situation. Questions arise whether schools provide this information to all families during the start of each school year, if so, possible changes to the delivery methods may be needed. The information may need to be reinforced later also. DOES YOUR WORKPLACE HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN FOR DISASTER? YES 69.6% NO 14.4% UNSURE 16% SUMMARY The predominant issue is the number of NO and UNSURE responses. 30.4% of the workers who responded either work in a business without a plan or dont know if one exists. This will be significant if an emergency or disaster situation occurs during the work day. DO YOU AND ALL OTHER MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY INCLUDING PETS HAVE A GO KIT/GET AWAY BAG FOR DISASTER? We have none 45.49% I do not know what a Go Kit or Get Away bag is - 40.68% of the We have none respondents 64.87% of the population has at least 1 pet, yet only 12.31% have Go Kits prepared for their pets. SUMMARY Nearly half of all residents are not prepared for one (1) day let alone any disaster event of longer duration. Of those who do not have a Go Kit, 40.68% do not know what a Go Kits was. This is possibly tied to a lack of public education and awareness, public apathy or interpreted inability to pay for items. Very few citizens have Go Kits for their pets. This raises concern that people may not think about their pets in preparing for emergencies or don't fully understand the complications that may arise in the evacuation and sheltering of pets. I EXPECT TO BE PERSONALLY AFFECTED BY THIS EVENT WITHIN: Earthquake Tsunami 61.72% - 10 yrs or greater 78.91% 10 yrs or greater Flooding - 50.05% - 10 yrs or greater SUMMARY Every disaster event provided presented at least 50% of the population not expecting any impact for 10 years or greater. The time expectations may be extremely significant when discussing whether citizens are preparing or not for disaster events. IF A DISASTER SITUATION WAS IMMINENT, WOULD YOU EVACUATE YOUR HOME IF TOLD BY AUTHORITIES? YES 79.09% NO 4.02% UNSURE 16.89% SUMMARY These numbers are extremely worrisome due to the fact that nearly 15,000 citizens will not leave or need to think about the situation. Understanding each event is different, these responses truly signify how important the initial message to evacuate will be for all citizens. AS A PET OWNER, IF YOU WERE TO EVACUATE, WOULD YOU BRING YOUR PET? YES - 87.2% NO -4% UNSURE 8.8% SUMMARY These numbers relate to issues many jurisdictions have had getting people to evacuate. Without their pets, they wont leave or will seek an alternative solution. Most shelters forbid pets. The Pet Act of 2006 mandated that jurisdictions include pet and animal evacuations in their planning, however pets and animals are considered property according to the law and most plans begin evacuations with people, then property. IF YOU WERE TO EVACUATE, WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKELY GO? 64.25% - indicate they would evacuate to an area outside of Grays Harbor County 30.22% - indicate they would stay with family or friends or in a motel in Grays Harbor County. 5.53% - indicate they would not leave their home if an evacuation was deemed necessary. SUMMARY - The numbers for those staying in county do not indicate which type of disaster event they would be considering. If it was for flooding, the numbers would be tolerable from a planning standpoint. If it was for a large tsunami event, the numbers show a need for full knowledge of the impact a true tsunami event would cause to the area. I EXPECT EMERGENCY RESPONSE AGENCIES TO ASSIST ME IF I MUST EVACUATE MY HOME. YES 21.03% NO 60.88% UNSURE 18.09% SUMMARY In a true disaster, emergency response agencies will be overwhelmed with emergency calls. The expectation that any response agency will arrive to assist is another area for citizen education. Response agencies will most likely not be able to assist individual citizens during an event of any magnitude. Personal preparedness and readiness actions need to be instilled in all citizens. IF GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY WAS IMPACTED BY A SIGNIFICANT DISASTER EVENT LASTING MULTIPLE DAYS, I EXPECT FEDERAL AND STATE RESPONSE AGENCIES, INCLUDING FEMA AND THE RED CROSS TO RESPOND WITHIN: 17.02% - 12 hours 33.30% - 24 hours 19.03% - 2 days 17.11% - longer than 4 days SUMMARY 69.35% of citizens expecting federal and state assistance within 2 days following a significant event is improbable following any type of major earthquake or tsunami. They occur without notice and no pre staging of necessary supplies would be taking place at the time of occurrence. The 2 day threshold could possibly be reached in a major flood event. IF GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY WAS IMPACTED BY A SIGNIFICANT DISASTER EVENT LASTING MULTIPLE DAYS, I EXPECT LOCAL, CITY AND COUNTY RESPONSE AGENCIES TO RESPOND WITHIN: 44.44% - 12 hours 29.48% - 24 hours 9.00% - 2 days 8.91% longer than 4 days SUMMARY - Although local response agencies could assist quickly in a major event, many access roads and equipment may be unusable affecting all efforts. The other most notable issue will be how long agencies will be able to assist without reinforcement or being completely overwhelmed by the situation? IN A SIGNIFICANT DISASTER EVENT LASTING MULTIPLE DAYS, WHO WOULD YOU SEEK OUT TO OBTAIN FOOD OR SHELTER ASSISTANCE? 38.13% - Unsure 15.42% - Church 10.60% - School 10.31% - Fire Department SUMMARY Any large impact event will definitely test our preparedness if we are unable to evacuate prior to the event. Seeking food, shelter and medical attention will be a priority for all. 38.13% unsure responses is a major indication of the need for public education in every community. Food, water and sheltering are essential during the first 12-48 hours of an event. HAVE YOU SIGNED UP FOR THE GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY NOTIFICATION SYSTEM? YES 40% NO 25.81% I dont know what the Notification System is 34.19% SUMMARY The responses indicating 34.19% not knowing what the Notification System is, indicates a strong need for better practices to increase awareness not only from a county level but in our tribal nations, cities and fire districts. The 25.81% NO responses to the notification system need to be further investigated as to why they decided not to join. DO YOU HAVE A NOAA ALL HAZARDS RADIO? YES 37.63% NO 62.37% SUMMARY The question has a flaw (We did not add it as the NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio). However, the NO responses indicate the feeling one does not need the radio for notification. More work needs to be done with this information, but one opinion is that it has been associated with tsunami warnings. People who have no tsunami threat believe it has no use for their families. Much more education to the public needs to be accomplished by all levels of government. SUMMATION The Grays Harbor County Citizen Expectation Survey was conducted to help understand what our citizens are thinking and expecting in the event of a major disaster. The summary results are indicative of a need for enhanced public education at the state, county, tribal, city and fire district levels. Expecting citizens to follow old plans or the wishes of local government without reinforcing it with considerable public education, will exacerbate disaster consequences on all affected by the event. Preparedness will lessen the impact any major disaster event will have upon us, our families, friends, neighbors, businesses and communities. Citizen and family preparedness are primary concerns for all forms of government and emergency management agencies. Communication by all available means, including social media, will increase the ability to change habits and reinforce clear and concise public messaging and education. The survey has opened the door to the inadequacies of today. Our common goal must be to strengthen and emphasize the importance of community preparedness and disaster education in every jurisdiction. These survey results also provide opportunity to build stronger and more viable emergency and disaster plans, supporting all response agencies, local governments and the citizens of Grays Harbor County.