245302 Snowmageddon and Daily Living: How a Vulnerable Population Prepared for and were Impacted by Severe Weather

Monday, October 31, 2011

Christina J. Sun, MS , Department of Health, Behaviof and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Carl Latkin, PhD , Health, Behavior, and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: In February 2010, Baltimore experienced two back-to-back severe winter storms, which resulted in record-breaking snowfall totals in the mid-Atlantic region.

Methods: Forty-two highly impoverished inner-city residents were interviewed up to 6 weeks after the blizzards. Participants were asked how they heard about the warnings for the storms, prepared for the blizzard, and how the blizzard affected their lives.

Results: All participants heard warnings for the storms and nearly all (88.10%) heard reports on the television. Two-thirds (64.29%) prepared for the blizzard by purchasing food. Seven individuals (16.66%) did nothing to prepare. When asked how the blizzard affected them, about three-quarters (78.57%) reported difficulties with public transportation or mobility. Slightly less than one-third (30.95%) reported a decrease in social interactions with important others. About a quarter (26.19%) reported that important services were closed. These included soup kitchens (36.36%), mental or physical health services (45.45%), and drug treatment groups (72.73%). Three participants also reported difficulty in meeting basic needs. However, there were some participants that described positive outcomes. For some, the blizzard provided a new source of income as they shoveled and another participant perceived the blizzard in bringing people together.

Conclusions: Severe weather events effect injection drug-users' access to transportation and necessary services. Consideration should be taken to ensure basic needs of the most vulnerable are met during such events. The use of television and media is a useful medium for disseminating preparedness messages to such populations.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how vulnerable individuals prepare for severe weather events 2. Explain how severe weather events impact the lives of vulnerable individuals 3. Identify methods to disseminate preparedness information to such a population

Keywords: Vulnerable Populations, Access and Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the study under supervision of academic advisors
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.