Research Finds Gap in Disaster Readiness – Study Says

People misunderstand their resources for resilience and largely overlook the need to create evacuation plans and getaway kits, according to a recent survey in New Zealand, as reported by

The survey, led by the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) in partnership with the Mayo Clinic (Minnesota), gathered information from 695 random people in Wellington about their evacuation preparedness for earthquake and tsunami disasters.

The survey found that “most people focused their preparedness on surviving by gathering home supplies and materials and not other essential items.”

“Preparedness for a disaster’s immediate aftermath is paramount for many professions – emergency management, health and safety, infrastructure and asset protection, service delivery, continuity planning, forecasting and security,” said Canterbury health sciences researcher Ray Kirk.

According to the article, “the focus on the immediate aftermath can produce gaps in meeting intermediate and long-term needs, creating a problem which is what people are preparing for.”

The research found “bridging the readiness gap prevents situations where people, communities and systems survive the initial impact, but their resilience trajectories are vulnerable to the trials of long-haul recovery.”

The article cited the 8.2 earthquake in Chile as an example where the overlooked dimensions of readiness were accentuated, and the realities highlighted. Although only six people died, nearly one million people were displaced.

“Future landslides, flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, wildfire and volcanic disasters are expected throughout the Pacific region. Evidence-based recommendations for promoting preventative action to minimize disaster are essential,” said Kirk.

“Our results of the recent Wellington survey indicated a role for protecting people’s health, leveraging strengths and resources to transcend their vulnerabilities throughout their lifetimes. Ignoring the readiness gap has significant implications for expectation management during and after crisis. We must go beyond the scope of current practices for survival and economic agency recovery to a broader horizon of preventive practice and promoting readiness. This requires risk awareness and clear meaningful choices for individual well-being and readiness that lead to resiliency. When people and communities use their resources to confront natural forces and external challenges and move forward positively, a stronger foundation for becoming disaster-transcendent should arise.”


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