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Department of Emergency Management


Press Release Detail

Saturday, January 24, 2015  19:47

Issued: Friday, July 02, 2010  00:00

Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness Survey Results






   Over the last few weeks, Grays Harbor County Emergency Management has posted an on-line survey/questionnaire in their website in order to determine various answers to questions which were identified concerning disaster notification, citizen preparation, community education and on issues the citizens felt were their greatest priority. In order to respond to the needs of the Grays Harbor community, an impact, need and knowledge base had to be determined and a 24 question survey/questionnaire was developed. Originally, it was believed that a response from 100 citizens would be very beneficial. In the end, 380 citizens began the survey/questionnaire with 347 completing it.
   Grays Harbor County Emergency Management set out to find if the information and notifications sent out to the community was useful, pertinent and was reaching the proper populations. The aspiration was to discover what information the citizens desired and how they wished to receive the information and notifications through the various media types. The responses will assist Grays Harbor County Emergency Management in developing a plan of action to provide enhanced, reliable and a more user friendly means of severe weather and disaster notification as well as to provide improved community education to our citizens, schools, senior and special needs populations.
   The greatest impact the survey provided was a process for the citizens to tell Grays Harbor County Emergency Management what information they desired to know more about and what areas they felt Emergency Management needed improvement in providing. Areas where Grays Harbor County Emergency Management had previously identified as needing greater development were confirmed by the citizen responses.
   The citizens also provided feedback to Grays Harbor County Emergency Management requesting more information on disaster related subjects such as shelters and evacuation, tsunami, earthquake, school preparedness and hazardous weather situations. These responses shall provide a framework for the 2010-2011 community educational projects planning. 
   Grays Harbor County Emergency Management would like to thank all who took the time to participate in taking the Grays Harbor Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness Survey/Questionnaire and for being so thoughtful, frank and conscientious in their replies.

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1)      380 surveys were started with 347 completed. Most of the responses to the survey came from the Montesano and Aberdeen areas although every area of the County was represented including the Quinault Indian Nation and the Chehalis Reservation.
2)      90.4% of the respondents to the survey indicated that they had been adversely affected by high winds and storm damage in the past and 83.7% expected to be impacted again in the future. Interestingly, 59.4% also indicated that they would be impacted by an earthquake within the next 3 years. 
Action: Work towards improving long range forecasting between the National Weather Service in Seattle & Portland and then implement a long range notification process (48 hours in advance) from Grays Harbor County Emergency Management to the citizens allowing for more time to prepare for adverse weather situations. Grays Harbor County Emergency Management will continue to promote Pro-Active preparedness activities through community workshops, media blitz campaigns and with the distribution of a new 2010-2011 edition of the All Hazards Guide for Grays Harbor County.
3)      A question was asked if the citizens would be interested in a 24 hour, disaster hotline phone number to call for direct information during a disaster situation only. 89.2% said that they would use it during a disaster and 76.6% indicated that they would be interested in having the hotline year long.
Action: Work towards the implementation Disaster Hotline for year round use. The Hotline number will need a massive media blitz campaign and will need to be posted in all County resource books and community guides. A specific catch phrase will need to be used to assist users in remembering the phone number during times of disaster and weather events.
4)      One of the surprising results to the survey was the fact that only 29.5% of the respondents used the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management website and that 41.5% didn’t even know that the website existed.
Action: Media blitz and posting in all County Resource and community guidebooks of the website. All correspondence should also include the website.
5)      Another surprising result was that 13% of the public have not listened to or implemented the warnings and suggestions by Grays Harbor County Emergency Management during disaster or weather situations. Many indicated that there have been warnings issued but the disaster events never occurred.
Action: There have been situations where a warning has been issued but the event ended up having a minimal impact upon our community. There needs to be a continued education program on the fact that Emergency Management officials relay the warning messages from NOAA and the WA State Division of Emergency Management as they are received. Our goal is to provide the citizens timely, accurate, reliable and consistent information about an impending situation. 
6)      Most respondents said that they receive their disaster notifications and information via an AM/FM Radio, Television, an e-mail from Emergency Management or a phone call from Emergency Management. Surprisingly, only 1/3 of the respondents received weather/disaster information via the All Hazards Weather Radio! In fact, 60.1% do not even have an operating All Hazards Weather Radio in their home!
Action: This was very surprising and alarming information since there have been many promotional programs to have citizens purchase All Hazard Weather Radios over the last few years.  Although continued media blitzes and community programs need to be undertaken, could the issue be cost? More work needs to be aimed towards public education about All Hazards Weather Radios and possibly beginning giveaway programs.
7)      Concerning how long people feel they will need to wait for assistance, 34.7% said they feel they would receive assistance during a weather event or disaster within 1-6 hours. Conversely, 23% felt it would take more than 3 days to receive assistance. 2/3 of respondents feel they would receive assistance in less than 2 days. 92.7% feel they could survive for up to 72 hours with their family and pets without assistance and 8.7% indicated that they will require assistance in the event of evacuation.
Action: Continued cooperation and communication between the County, Cities, Tribes, Law Enforcement, Fire Departments, community groups, business and Emergency Management to reinforce the movement towards pro-activeness and information sharing prior to, during and following any situation.
8)      In performance of Storm/Disaster Notification: 90.1% ranked Emergency Management at average or above – 8.9% below average or poor. This was our highest outstanding score of 13%
Action: To continue media blitzes, and better notification systems for quicker, more reliable information as it becomes available.
      9)   In performance of Educating the Public on Emergency Management issues:
80.4% ranked Emergency Management at average and above – 18.6% below average to poor
Actions: Continued public education programs in every area of the County. (Providing the information about the website will assist greatly.) Production of a new edition of the Grays Harbor County All Hazards Guide.
    10)   In performance of Use of Newspaper & Media:
83.4% ranked Emergency Management above average or above – 16.6% below average to poor.
Action: Continued use of television, radio and print media. The loss of the Monday edition of The Daily World newspaper will also have a negative impact on the ability to provide timely information. There have been proposals for an “Emergency Management Minute” on the Radio Stations and for a weekly Emergency Management article in the newspapers. Grays Harbor County Emergency Management will continue to strive for more exposure on current events to the public.
 11)      In performance of Public Education for Special Needs and Senior Populations:
68.7% ranked Emergency Management average or above – 31.3% ranked us below average to poor. This was our worst score in the below average to poor range.
Action: Grays Harbor Emergency Management is aware that there needs to be a disaster planning process to include the special needs and senior populations. A County wide plan is in the initial stages of development. The process of identification and location of these populations is underway so we can make contact and begin the process of working to resolve the disaster issues that they may have.
 12)     In performance of Pet & Livestock Care and Evacuation During a Disaster:
70.2% ranked Emergency Management average to above average. 29.8% said we were below average to poor.
Action: A County wide plan is in the initial stages of development using available resource entities from the State, County and local farmers and ranchers. Grays Harbor County Emergency Management will also support the development of County Animal Response Teams for Grays Harbor County.  
 13)     In performance of Grays Harbor County Emergency Management over the last 12 months:
89% rated the performance as average or above and 11% rated the overall performance as below average to poor.
Action: The primary goal is to enhance communication capabilities between Grays Harbor County Emergency Management and the citizens. A new County wide notification system has been implemented which gives much faster notification capabilities and the option of texting for the first time. Twitter is also in use and the use of Facebook and My Space is also being examined. More newspaper and Radio campaigns need to be initiated as well as promotion of the website. The website will also be changed to become more user friendly. There will also be continued use of a yearly survey to gauge the performance of planning processes, citizen outreach and to provide a way to receive feedback on real life disaster or weather situations. (The survey needs to become better structured so information can be tied into statistical data for future use)