On 25 August 2022, a Long Term Power Outage Workshop was conducted with members of local organizations that represented law enforcement, fire services, EMS & medical, local government, mortuary affairs, and agriculture & resources. During that workshop, several scenarios were discussed that involved power outages ranging from 7, 14, 21, and >28 days. To assist in the functional discussions of each scenario, results from a survey was provided to provide a pulse of the community.
The survey was conducted between 1 March 2022 and closed out on 19 August 2022. 325 county residents participated online and answered questions that related to power outage preparedness. The following are the results of the survey. If you didn't take the survey...how close do they match up to your household?
Note: Majority of responses were from Wilmington and Union Township.
Note: A significant portion of the survey respondents indicated their household had elevated medical needs than the general public. This population would be at a greater risk in the event of a long term power outage.
Note: Household size reported is higher than census data, indicating a higher response rate from households with children, than those of "empty nesters" or retirees.
Note: A key element of preparedness is the ability to send & receive information (COMMUNICATIONS ranked as a #6 recovery concern for survey responders). During the 2008 Hurricane Ike Remnants, at least one neighborhood setup its own community watch and utilized FRS radios for identifying suspect persons in the area and sharing information updates. (Resources: Alerts, Tech)
Note: Responses from "HAM" radio users showed a higher than normal level of preparedness for food, medical, generator, communications, and security than the rest of the survey respondents. They also showed a higher than normal instance of health issues, possibly indicating them as older residents of the county.
Note: Majority of survey respondents indicated a higher than normal sense of duty for reporting to work, even during a fuel shortage. This figure is predicted to drop sharply after day 4 if fuel resupply issues persisted. Additionally, if financial systems (e.g. ATM, credit card transactions, et cetera) were out, then this number for non-farm families could drop to under 20%. (Resources: Finance)
Note: Number of survey respondents that would continue to drive to work during a fuel shortage decreased to 37%. While this number may reflect the first few days, if fuel resupply was not local or timely, this number is predicted to drop further for those who are considered "non-farmer." This figure is predicted to drop sharply after day 4 if fuel resupply issues persisted. Additionally, if financial systems (e.g. ATM, credit card transactions, et cetera) were out, then this number for non-farm families could drop to single digits.
Note: More than half indicating yes. This presumes that a business has power and is operating. If the business is closed, this will have impacts to employees (e.g. access to information, pay, et cetera). A wide area shutdown of business will have a detrimental impact to the community (e.g. response, recovery, and morale).
Note: A serious outage persisting greater than 72-hours could force households to consider fuel use and property security (if they left their property unattended) as part of their decision to report to work.
Note: Majority indicated they maintained at least 3 days of non-perishable food for their household, which synced with their ranking FOOD/WATER as respondents #1 top concern (see lower). Majority of residents rely on frozen/refrigerated food for day to day meals, which would be impacted in the early days of a long term power outage, especially if the household did not have a non-electrical means for cooking. 33 survey respondents indicated they had more than 30 days food, which is likely tied to household canning (higher in farming and rural areas). (Resources: Plan, Kit)
Note: Vast majority had either components of, or an actual, first aid kit. This would illustrate a higher degree of awareness that a minor wound could result in an infection or worse condition if not taken care of.
Note: Number reflective of those who may be first responders, experienced hunters, or members of the medical community. (Resources: Stop-The-Bleed)
Note: Nearly 1 in 5 households of survey responders indicated a family member with a high level of reliance on medical services. During a long term power outages, access to medical care could be impacted and have a negative impact on those unprepared.
Note: While the vast majority have a relationship with their immediate neighbors, and 42% of those neighbors would likely be self-sufficient, there remains a high degree of concern for the potential increase of crime in their neighborhood as a result of a long term power outage.
Note: The majority of households indicated they had some form of "emergency kit" capability, but less than half owned a fire extinguisher (potential for fire emergencies increase during longer outages as households use non-electrical cooking and heating options). Additionally, only 27% indicated they had a NOAA radio, indicating that the #6 concern of COMMUNICATIONS during an outage may be over stated or not understood. (Resources: Kit)
Note: A total of 44% of respondents indicated some form of generator capability, either whole house or portable generator. Only 6% indicated some sort of solar capability, mostly in a portable capacity for small electronics. (Resources: Generator)
Note: More than half receive water from a supplied water main, and only 9% indicated the ability to filter or process water in an emergency. (Resources: Water)
Note: Majority of responses, combined with reported on-hand non-perishable food, point toward a difficult maximum of 7-days for most survey respondents. Farm households are perceived to be least impacted, other than feed/care of livestock. City and village residents are perceived to be most unprepared and require more support. Outages lasting greater than 7-days (impacting fuel resupply, access to finances, grocery shopping, et cetera) would likely result in greater community challenges. (Resources: Alerts, Plan, Kit, Finance)
Note: Survey response estimated to be low and less likely to answer yes due to the current political issues. Perceived respondents may likely have a shotgun.
Note: Survey response estimated to be low and less likely to answer yes due to the current political issues. Perceived respondents may likely have a handgun. For those that answered yes for hunting and CCW, the household is more likely to have a long gun.
Note: Higher concerns (#1-5) focus on household sustainment, and are items that most households can active prep for before an outage.