Rural America More Prepared for Disaster
February 6, 2007
 
From winter storms, to earthquakes, to terrorism -- when a disaster strikes a community, who fares better, a rural community or an urban one? A new study at the University of Illinois attempts to understand the differences in how rural and urban citizens across the US respond to disaster. Preliminary results show that although rural residents may be more directly involved in responding to crisis, their location also makes them more vulnerable.

Courtney Flint, a rural sociologist and assistant professor at the U of I, and her student, Joanne Rinaldi, interviewed 20 coordinators of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) across Illinois to find out what they are doing, what disasters they are prepared for and what they do between disasters.

Flint says that rural communities have a tradition of being more self-reliant, but they are also closer to the physical environment and more isolated, making them uniquely vulnerable.

Flint hopes that the study will help show policy-makers that one size doesn't fit all -- that urban and rural needs are different.