Augmenting Efforts for a Tool to Predict Post-Event Rural Population Surge

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2006
Project completed:
October 2008
In discussions with preparedness planners, we have found that the lack of population surge estimates (i.e., estimates of the number of persons who may enter a rural community after a catastrophic event) is seen as a significant barrier to local planning efforts. Rural preparedness dollars can be more effectively and efficiently utilized at the local level if communities have information on population surge, thereby creating a basis upon which community preparedness planners can determine needed resources and supplies. This study will use a national household survey and a series of discussions with community and national experts to inform rural preparedness planning efforts and augment the predictive accuracy of a tool being developed by the Walsh Center for rural preparedness planners.

In the first phase of this study, Walsh Center staff conducted key informant interviews with preparedness experts, including national experts and paired urban-rural preparedness planners. Interview protocols focused on anticipated behavior and response of urban residents following a disaster, the likelihood of self-evacuation to surrounding rural areas, the ability of rural communities to accommodate evacuees, and planning efforts to address these concerns.

The second phase of the project was a national survey of urban residents to assess their intended behavior following an urban disaster. Interview questions focused on issues such as whether they have formulated disaster plans, whether they have family within the region, whether they are likely to follow governmental shelter in place orders, etc. The survey included a standard series of demographic questions for use in the tabulation of results. Relevant variables for this analysis include: gender, age, household income, marital status, geographic region, metro/non-metro residency, race, education, and employment status.

Results from both study phases have been released as Policy Briefs and will be included in a final study report.