Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Tornadoes and tsunamis, hurricanes and hail storms. The list of natural disasters is long, but the list of non-natural disasters is probably longer. Nuclear meltdowns, terrorist attacks and pandemic flus.
Hurricanes have recently hit New York and New England, heat waves have descended on Moscow and massive floods have occurred in Australia. Let’s face it: life is a dicey proposition. In the context of catastrophes, you can run, but you cannot hide. That’s the bad news. The good news is that society has pioneered a powerful survival strategy. It has three parts: planning, more planning and still more planning.
In this department, some U.S. cities are more equipped than others to survive the full spectrum of worst-case scenarios the universe has in store for them.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control launched the "Cities Readiness Initiative" (CRI) to enhance the emergency preparedness of America’s largest cities and metropolitan statistical areas, which encompasses more than 50% of the nation’s population. In particular, the CRI considers the capabilities of public-health departments in large metropolitan areas to manage the mother of all crises – a mega-scale bio-terrorism attack. By contemplating an extreme scenario, the CRI considers the full gamut of response capabilities considered critical to managing a crisis.
As part of the CRI, the CDC and state public health personnel assess local emergency-management plans, protocols and capabilities for 72 Metropolitan Statistical Areas and four non-MSA large cities. Based on this assessment, the CRI calculates a score for each MSA that ranges from zero to 100. According to the CSC, a score of 69 or higher indicates that the city has established acceptable "plans to receive, distribute, and Strategic National Stockpile medical assets."
Like politics, all disasters are local. The key ingredient in surviving whatever the world throws at you is not simply having a plan, but the planning proceed.
Here are the 5 worst prepared based on disaster readiness scores:
5) Portland, ME
|Photo: Jose Axel/Getty Images|
4) Pittsburgh, PA
|Photo: David Coleman/Getty Images|
3) Fresno, CA
|Photo: David Jordan|
2) Birmingham, AL
1) Albuquerque, NM
|Photo: Maria Veras/istockphoto|
Here are the 5 best prepared based on disaster readiness scores:
5) Washington, D.C.
3) Chicago, IL
2) Dover, DE
|Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR|
1) New York City, NY
|Photo: Ingram Publishing/Newscom|