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Are Californians Prepared for the Next Natural Disaster?

Alyssa Dykman October 17, 2019
photo - Loma Prieta 1989 Earthquake Damage

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that shook Northern California. There’s a high probability that California will experience another major earthquake in the next 30 years. Given this threat—not to mention wildfires and floods—how worried are Californians about future disasters?

When asked about the potential impact of a disaster, six in ten adults are either very (28%) or somewhat (32%) worried that a household member will experience injury or property damage, or that a disaster will result in a major disruption of their household routine, according to PPIC’s latest statewide survey

Residents in Los Angeles (33%) and the Inland Empire (32%) are the most likely to be very worried, although majorities across regions are at least somewhat worried. Californians earning under $80,000 a year (35%) are twice as likely as those earning $80,000 or more (13%) to say they are very worried. Across racial/ethnic groups, Latinos (46%) are much more likely than African Americans (32%), Asian Americans (21%), and whites (16%) to be very worried.

figure - Los Angeles and Inland Empire Residents Are the Most Worried about a Natural Disaster

Despite high levels of concern, only three in ten Californians (29%) say they are very knowledgeable about the steps they can take to prepare for a disaster, while slightly more than half (54%) claim to be somewhat knowledgeable. Knowledge of disaster preparedness is similar across regions.

Yet differences emerge across demographic groups, with higher-income Californians (37% $80,000 or more) and homeowners (36%) more likely than lower-earning residents (25% under $80,000) and renters (24%) to say they are very knowledgeable.

How prepared are Californians for a natural disaster? Residents are more likely to have a disaster supplies kit (61%) than a definite disaster plan (50%). The share of Californians who report having a supplies kit or a definite plan is slightly higher than in 2014.

Residents in Los Angeles are the most likely to report having a supplies kit (65%) or a definite plan (53%). Across racial/ethnic groups, Asian Americans are the most likely to report having a supplies kit (65%) and African Americans are the most likely to have a definite plan (64%). Californians age 18 to 34 are less likely than older residents to have a supplies kit or a definite plan.

With the ever-present threat of earthquakes, wildfires, and flooding, Californians have to be prepared for an array of natural disasters. Stay tuned to the PPIC Statewide Survey as we track residents’ perceptions on this issue.

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