Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rural America more prepared for disaster -- also more vulnerable

17.01.2007
From winter storms, to earthquakes, to terrorism -- when a disaster strikes a community, who fares better, a rural community or an urban one?

A new study at the University of Illinois attempts to understand the differences in how rural and urban citizens across the US respond to disaster. Preliminary results show that although rural residents may be more directly involved in responding to crisis, their location also makes them more vulnerable.

Courtney Flint, a rural sociologist and assistant professor at the U of I, and her student, Joanne Rinaldi, interviewed 20 coordinators of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) across Illinois to find out what they are doing, what disasters they are prepared for and what they do between disasters.

"What we've learned so far is that in rural communities there is a tradition of being more self-reliant," said Flint. "They're off the grid, so that makes them check on each other more, but they are also uniquely situated, closer in some ways to the physical environment and more isolated, making them uniquely vulnerable."

Perhaps it's that vulnerability that makes rural communities more self-reliant. Flint said that people in farm communities say, "We're on our own. We know we're not going to get the same first response in an emergency as the cities." While people in urban communities ask questions about liability, rural dwellers say, "We can't wait around for funding. If we need bandages, we'll just start ripping up old bed sheets."

"Farm families have to keep going," said Flint. "They may have livestock. They can't wait for someone to flip the switch. They are more prepared for disaster. They have generators, kerosene heaters, snow plows and other equipment."

Tornadoes, flooding, winter storms, and hazardous material accidents can strike a city as well as a farm. But in urban communities they are faced with a heavier concentration of people and a social vulnerability -- neighbors don't talk to each other as much.

Flint and Rinaldi are discovering that in rural communities, the CERTs themselves plan as if they might be the first responders to a disaster, while in urban and suburban communities in Chicago, for example, the need for CERTs is different because those communities have extensive first responders in their police and fire departments. "In the Chicago suburbs, the CERTs might do more crowd and traffic control, provide information, answer telephones and work to unite blocks and neighborhoods in a disaster situation," said Flint.

Most CERTS take an all-hazards approach -- that is, they practice responding to a range of potential emergencies. Many of the CERT coordinators spoke about three broad categories of potential hazards: weather events, transportation accidents and hazardous materials, and terrorism.

"After 9/11, one county in Colorado did a big effort on anti-terrorism, but in 2006, they began shifting the focus to fire, flooding and flu because they saw the likelihood for these occurring as much greater," said Flint.

Before 9/11 there were only about 175 CERTs. Between 2001 and 2006, the number grew to a current listing of 2435. CERTS were moved from being under the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to Citizen Corps which is under the Department of Homeland Security. There are 86 Citizen Corps groups listed in Illinois but the total number of CERTs in the state is harder to assess. Finding this complete set of CERTs, and assessing how active each one is, is part of the study.

One aspect of Flint's study is also to look at what CERTs can do between disasters. "We tend to be more reactive than proactive; we wait for the first big freeze to go out to buy shovels, flares for the car and plastic to cover windows," said Flint. "Before disaster strikes, CERTS can do a lot in a community to be proactive by building awareness, educating and training. In rural communities, they may do work such as stabilizing stream banks that may overflow -- that sort of thing." Defining the role of CERTs and the relationship with other first responders is critical to effective programs. "Funding consistency or a lack of sufficient funds was a common issue for a majority of the CERTs," said Rinaldi.

Flint hopes that the study will help show policy-makers that one size doesn't fit all -- that urban and rural needs are different. She has a colleague in Florida working on a similar study. Flint wants to develop a national database of active CERTs and to share lessons learned across the state and country between CERTs.

Debra Levey Larson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>