Effects of 2011 Tornado Outbreak on Disaster Preparedness Studied by UAB

Dr. Lisa C. McCormick, assistant professor in the department of health care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham – collaborating with department colleagues, professor Dr. Andrew C. Rucks, and professor Dr. Peter M. Ginter, along with Mr. Jesse Pevear, program director in the Survey Research Unit – examined the effects of a tornado disaster on the personal preparedness of local residents to determine to what extent the tornado outbreak experience had altered preparedness awareness, willingness to act, and levels of personal preparedness of residents as measured by possession of a preparedness kit; and to what effect this experience had on the variables associated with having a complete disaster preparedness kit.

Two random digit-dialed surveys were completed by UAB’s Survey Research Unit, following the Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System protocols. The pre-tornado survey was conducted between October and December 2010 and the post-tornado survey was conducted between January and March 2012.

After the April 2011 tornado outbreak, 86.08 percent of the respondents reported that they had thought more about personal or family preparedness and 59.65 percent reported that they had taken actions to increase their level of preparedness. Overall, general awareness of preparedness media campaigns increased almost 24 percent, as did the percentage of those having a complete disaster preparedness kit (a 66 percent increase, not quite doubled from 2010 to 2012).

Findings of the study indicate that the disaster had a significant impact on the local residents' awareness of preparedness campaigns, awareness of the need to be prepared, willingness to become better prepared, and possession of a disaster and emergency preparedness kit and its associated items. The article, “The Effects of the April 2001 Tornado Outbreak on Personal Preparedness in Jefferson County, Alabama,” was published in the January issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.