NEW ORLEANS (NNPA) - Residents of Orleans and Jefferson parishes seem generally well prepared to meet the upcoming hurricane season, but for some groups preparedness may be dangerously low, said Robert Sims, director of the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center commonly known as the UNO Poll.
Results of a recent UNO Poll survey reported at the National Hurricane Conference in Austin, Texas earlier in April indicate that 71 percent of area residents claim to have made plans about what to do if a hurricane threatens.
But, that number drops to 50 percent among low-income households (less than $20,000 annual income) and with those with less than a high school education. Less than 40 percent of residents with a ninth- grade education or less have made plans.
Though not surprising, these results point to a potential problem since nearly 20 percent of Orleans and Jefferson residents fall into this less-educated category, Sims said.
The poll also indicated that the majority of residents, 54 percent, would definitely evacuate and 27 percent would probably evacuate if advised to do so by public officials. African American respondents and residents of Orleans Parish indicated greater receptivity to the advice of public officials than White respondents and Jefferson Parish residents, Sims said.
Nearly half, 46 percent, of residents who indicated they would not likely follow the recommendations of public officials regarding evacuation indicated that they do not trust official recommendations and/or they are more comfortable making evacuation decisions for themselves.
Just more than 20 percent of these respondents stated that they would not evacuate at all since they felt safe in their own homes, and 14 percent indicated that they are tired of evacuating or that past evacuations had been too difficult.
The survey further indicated that official efforts to evacuate the poorest residents in advance of Hurricane Gustav were largely successful, as residents with annual incomes less than $10,000 reported evacuation rates comparable to those of upper-income residents. Evacuation rates for residents in the $10,000 to $60,000 income range were significantly lower than others, suggesting that economic factors do serve as an impediment to evacuation for those who may not be targeted for government assistance.
The results were part of UNO's annual Quality of Life Survey which was conducted in late March. The sample included 602 registered voters in Orleans and Jefferson parishes and has a margin of error of + or - 4 percent.