Public officials often express concern about emergency preparedness, with a key message to residents that we should have enough food, water and medication stowed in our homes to sustain us for at least a few days and as long as two or three weeks.
A new study ranks Washington State second in the country for natural disaster preparedness related to extreme weather. Oregon comes in third.
The study doesn’t cover earthquakes, focusing instead on natural disasters related to weather, such as extreme storms and wildfires.
It bases the rankings on past incidents, not concern about future perils such as the looming prospect of a major earthquake, which could in fact cut people off from first responders for several days or weeks. But the study still sheds light on how all 50 states compare.
The study comes from a content company in Chicago. The authors used four data points to compile weighted rankings on preparedness for dealing with these emergencies.
First, they looked at how many times there were disaster declarations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Then, they tallied up each state’s emergency management budget and its infrastructure score from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Finally, they counted the number of National Guard troops available to respond to natural disasters.
Collin Czarnecki is a researcher and content strategist with Digital Third Coast, which put the study together. He says Washington ranked second despite having a C grade from ASCE on vulnerable infrastructure, because the state is still spending more on preparedness.
He says a C was the top grade they saw in their survey of all the states’ infrastructure. And Washington has seen fewer big weather-related emergencies in the past than many other states
“FEMA’s been keeping track since 1953, so compared to another West Coast state like California, Washington definitely fares a lot better in terms of the overall proneness that your state has to disasters,” Czarnecki said.
California ranks twelfth in their study. The most prepared state in the country by these rankings is Iowa. The least prepared is Texas.
Washington’s top two disasters of the past are wildfires, which tend to hit hardest in August, and flooding, for which Washington ranks third worst in the country.