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National Preparedness Planning: The Historical Context and Current State of the U.S. Public's Readiness, 1940-2005

Redlener, Irwin E.; Berman, David A.

In the United States, national public preparedness efforts meant to ready individuals and families for disasters have been driven primarily by international threats, actual or anticipated. These include terrorism, war and the potential for global instability such as the millennium Y2K computer error. The national dialogue on public preparedness following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the fall of 2005 is a notable departure from the more typical focus of public preparedness, which is oriented toward terrorism and international threats. However, the response to the hurricanes was largely viewed as an unanticipated test of the public’s readiness for a disaster and the penetration of the public preparedness messages that have been actively promulgated since 11 September 2001. As such, we argue that the poor state of public readiness that was found in the U.S. Gulf Coast region after the hurricanes actually reflects a national state of unpreparedness for emergency events despite the post-September 11th calls from all levels of government for the U.S. public to be prepared.

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More Information

Published In
Journal of International Affairs
Volume
59
Issue
2
Pages
87 - 103
Academic Units
National Center for Disaster Preparedness
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