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January 04 2006

Most Americans Are Not Prepared if Disaster Strikes, According to Survey Released by Operation HOPE and Qorvis Communications

Despite Belief that Disaster Will Occur, Three-Quarters of Americans Admit They Are
Not Well Prepared-Physically or Financially 

( Washington ) Wednesday, January 4, 2006. Though nearly half of Americans say they believe a major natural disaster or terrorist attack is likely to occur in their area in the next five years, more than three quarters (77 percent) admit they are ill- prepared, according to a national survey conducted by Qorvis Communications' iQ Research & Consulting Practice and HOPE Coalition America, the emergency preparedness and response division of Operation HOPE (and partner with FEMA).

Of the 500-plus respondents, 44 percent think a major national disaster will occur in their area in the next five years, and 32 percent think a terrorist attack will occur in their area in the next five years. The survey also found that nearly half (47 percent) of Americans do not know their community's evacuation route, and the same percentage does not have an emergency contact or safe place identified to call or go to if disaster hits.

"With more than 2.9 million people displaced after Hurricane Katrina and at least 68 natural disasters in the past year, Americans must understand the need to prepare for unexpected emergencies in order to minimize loss both physically and financially," said Jena Roscoe , senior vice president & chief of government affairs, Operation HOPE. "These findings reveal a need to institute more educational programs on emergency preparedness." 

HOPE Coalition America, a division of Operation HOPE dedicated to emergency financial preparedness and recovery (and a partner of FEMA), commissioned Qorvis to survey America's general level of preparedness-both physically and financially-in case of emergency or disaster. Some of the findings included: 

  • When asked if they could save one item in the face of disaster, the highest percentage (35 percent) of Americans chose financial documents. 
  • More than half (53 percent) of Americans said they have two months salary saved in case of unexpected job termination.
  • Only 25 percent of pet owners surveyed have a plan or place to care for their pet(s) in case of emergency.
  • Eight-three percent of survey respondents said they would most likely NOT buy emergency preparedness items or kits as gifts for others over the holidays.

Surveyors were also asked what important personal and financial documents they had copies of in case of a disaster. Here are percentages of people who currently do have the recommended household items and documents saved in case of emergency or disaster:

Household/personal safety items

  • Three-day supply of bottled water: 47%
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food: 65%
  • Battery powered radio and Batteries: 69%
  • Flashlight and Batteries: 91%
  • First aid kit: 73%
  • Dust masks: 25%
  • Signal flare: 17%
  • Fire Extinguisher: 67%

Personal/financial documents

  • Birth certificate: 77%
  • Marriage license (if married): 74%
  • Social security card: 85%
  • Will: 50%
  • Powers of authority (personal/property): 50%
  • Vehicle registration/ownership papers: 84%
  • Tax statement(s): 69%
  • Insurance documents: 73%
  • Bank and credit account info/statements: 79%
  • Mortgage statement: 68%

HOPE Coalition offers emergency budget counseling and step-by-step emergency preparation guidelines (Emergency Financial First Aid Kit) to Americans, particularly those in low-income urban areas and areas prone to or recently affected by disaster. A copy of EFFAK can be downloaded at or in the FEMA publication distribution center, listed as publication No. 532. People can also order a copy by calling 800-480-2520.

"In this day and age, following the tragic events that have occurred here on American soil and that devastated so many thousands of our friends, family and fellow citizens, it astounds me that so many Americans do not have a plan," said John Bryant, founder and chairman of Operation HOPE. "And yet, despite believing that emergencies or disasters will happen, Americans don't seem to place emergency planning high on their list of priorities. We must get to the bottom of this, and we must instill a need for preparation."

The survey conducted, comprised of 500 Americans, was a representative sample of the population, including demographics, age, income and location. 

For a complete report on this survey and additional findings and results, please visit and click on "Research."