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Survey indicates some not prepared for storm season
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While not many coastal residents along the Southeastern United States will soon forget the experience of living through a hurricane, as the 2008 season approaches many may be experiencing a case of amnesia about the most basic preparedness strategies, according to a new survey out today from Allstate. While 24-44 percent of survey respondents from five areas in the Southeast declared they are very prepared, and 34-47 percent felt they are fairly prepared for a hurricane right now, they may be less prepared than they realize.  
The survey showed that between 61 and 84 percent of people polled in those areas have established an evacuation plan, with New Orleans being the highest of the five areas at 84 percent. These plans are crucial and should be discussed with relatives and neighbors in advance of a hurricane.  
Not only were some area respondents unsure of what to do once a hurricane arrives, many didn't have a pre-storm preparedness plan in place. Between 60-75 percent named water as one of the two most essential items to have on hand in case of a hurricane. The other top selection was food, which was picked by 59-71 percent of respondents. However, much smaller numbers mentioned other important items. For example, a flashlight and batteries were mentioned by slightly more than one-third, and about one-third mentioned a radio. Having cash and a full tank of gas were mentioned by less than one in five.
Experts predict above-average hurricane activity this year, with several storms expected to reach Category 3 or higher, said John Heid, an Allstate spokesman.
"Those predictions, coupled with the startling statistics we've uncovered through this survey, make it clear to us that we need to continue to raise awareness about hurricane preparedness in our city," Heid said. "Preparation is a family's best defense against a natural disaster, and families can follow simple steps to prepare themselves for the worst case scenario."
Experts say families can prepare themselves by creating a well-stocked first-aid kit as well as a disaster-supply kit and keeping them in easy-to-access places. The disaster-supply kit should contain a three-day supply of water and ready-to-eat, non-perishable foods as well as utensils, personal hygiene items, extra clothes, blankets and shoes. Traveler's checks and extra cash should also be stored in a secure place.
The survey release kicks off a comprehensive effort by Allstate to encourage coastal residents to become better prepared for hurricane season, which begins June 1. As part of this campaign, Allstate is taking its innovative Mobile Response Unit fleet on the road throughout the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard to raise awareness about hurricane preparedness. The company's fleet of six full-time units can be dispatched following a natural disaster to help deliver quick and efficient claims service to affected Allstate customers. Once on site, Mobile Response Units are staffed by teams of claims veterans, called Allstate's National Catastrophe Team. They direct and coordinate all aspects of Allstate's disaster-response operations.
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