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!
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences