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Long Island

Study to assess whether Long Islanders are ready for the next disaster

Eve Hough, a Lindenhurst resident, at her home,

Eve Hough, a Lindenhurst resident, at her home, Sept. 26, 2014. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

A study funded by a $10,000 grant will look at whether post-Sandy Long Islanders are better prepared when the streets are blocked, phones die and the water or snow turns into life-threatening challenges.

Sustainable Long Island, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic development, social equity and the environment, said a State Farm insurance grant awarded last month will develop and launch a "Disaster Preparedness Program."

Under the three-prong plan, the group will conduct surveys to assess whether Long Islanders have strategies and supplies ready; teach high school and college students on how to let their peers know about the effectiveness of social media in helping residents during disasters; and work with Long Beach to create a pilot program that would educate the public about disaster preparedness.

A report on the findings is expected to be done in a year and shared with government officials and emergency rescue groups, such as Red Cross, said Amy Engel, the group's executive director.

"Our suspicion is that even though people are more aware that storms are coming, they really haven't taken the next step to prepare what they need," Engel said.

She hopes the study will identify gaps in preparedness, from lack of emergency kits to evacuation strategies.

In preparing questions for the survey, Engel said, she found gaps in her own planning. "I hadn't gone over a plan with my kids on where to meet if they can't reach me," she said.

Engel believes residents are doing less than they need to do because of their faith in government's ability to take care of problems and an "overreliance" on agencies: "That has led to complacency."

In a natural disaster, she said, things can change "in a blink of an eye."

Asked Engel, "Even with all Long Island has been through, are residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties waiting until the last minute to prepare?"

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