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Would you be prepared if a disaster like Harvey struck in your city?

Posted at 4:30 AM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-08 15:45:20-04

CINCINNATI -- If a natural disaster on the scale of hurricanes Irma or Harvey struck the Tri-State tomorrow, would you be ready?

Odds are you wouldn't be, according to data gathered by the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency. The public safety organization sent a survey to 92,000 Hamilton County residents to assess their level of emergency-preparedness with 25 questions about the plans, supplies and communication they would need if an emergency arrived. 

Of the 1,200 who have responded, most wouldn't be as safe as they could in case of catastrophe -- but it's not for lack of desire to learn. Many simply don't know where to look for information that will keep themselves and their families safe.

"People want to be prepared," HCEMA assistant director Ryan McEwan said. "They just don't know how to be prepared."

McEwan said he and other HCEMA workers hope to educate Hamilton County residents on the concrete actions they can take to stay protected. Although neither Harvey nor Irma will send anything more severe than rain in Cincinnati's direction, tornadoes and thunderstorms can still present life-threatening risks to Tri-Staters.

One thing that will help in almost any emergency situation is an emergency preparedness kit, McEwan said. This should contain all the supplies -- food, water, toilet paper, bandages and medicine -- you need for three days in case you become trapped in your home without running water or electricity.

Other questions on the survey ask participants if they have memorized the phone numbers of family and friends, if they have planned a place to meet with their families in case of separation, and if they know the fastest way to get out of their homes in case they become unsafe.

"We're using this as a planning tool," McEwan said. "Any time we can communicate with people who live and work in Hamilton County and learn what it is they need from us, I think that's going to help strengthen our relationship with the public and their level of preparedness."

The survey will remain open for answers until Halloween. In November, McEwan and his colleagues will have a far more comprehensive answer to how well prepared Greater Cincinnatians are -- and where we could all stand to be a little more careful.

For more coverage of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, visit WCPO.com/harvey.