Seven U.S. States Least Prepared for Disaster

As the U.S. continues to face growing public health threats, including swine flu, bioterrorism, and major weather events, the spotlight continues to shine brighter on the ever-pressing need to prepare for eventual crises. And both preparedness and response can only be handled effectively when the private and public sectors come together.

According to an article on, state governmental bodies are the main organizations that tackle disaster preparedness and response. However, not all states are adequately prepared for disaster, according to Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonprofit organization that tackles disease prevention. The TFAH published a report — in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a healthcare philanthropy — that scored states based on public health threat readiness. TFAH analysts assessed indicators such as public health funding (whether it increased from 2011 to 2012) and infectious disease control and vaccinations.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven states “least prepared to deal with these kinds of disasters.” Here are the results in ascending order:

7. Colorado
All-hazards preparedness funding: $15,489,507 (up 3.6%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -3.9%

  • While this state is less prepared than most, overall, to deal with disasters, it does participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact, one of 24 states to do so. “This program allows nurses registered in participating states to practice in all other participating states and could help Colorado obtain the medical staffing necessary in case of a public health emergency.”

6. Georgia
All-hazards preparedness funding: $26,701,047 (up 2.3%)
Pct. change in public health funding: 1.2%

  • Medicaid in this state doesn’t cover flu shots without co-pays for those younger than 65. It also doesn’t have a law requiring childcare facilities to implement a multi-hazard evacuation plan.

5. Hawaii
All-hazards preparedness funding: $6,818,950 (down 4.3%)
Pct. change in public health funding: 0.1%

  • According to the TFAH, Hawaii was the worst state in emergency operations coordinating capability. State officials took three times longer than any other state (221 minutes) to notify and immediately gather staff in the event of a public health crisis.

4. Nevada
All-hazards preparedness funding: $10,105,858 (up 3.8%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -5.1%

  • Nevada’s public health funding declined for the third straight year. The state also has the lowest reported rate of infants receiving immunization for whooping cough.

3. New Jersey
All-hazards preparedness funding: $25,586,974 (down 1.4%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -1.3%

  • The state was not equipped to staff a public health lab in an emergency. It also lacked a climate change adaptation plan.

2. Kansas
All-hazards preparedness funding: $10,309,363 (up 2.8%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -6.0%

  • The state’s shortcomings include a lack of a climate change adaptation plan, as well as no accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

1. Montana
All-hazards preparedness funding: $5,884,938 (down 11.9%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -21.0%

  • Montana’s limited preparedness for public health disasters can be explained by a lack of funding, TFAH indicated. Total all-hazards preparedness funding declined 11.9% from 2011 and 2012, one of the largest drops of all states.

For more information about the seven states least prepared for disaster, visit: