The Seven States Least Prepared for Disaster

3.  New Jersey
Score: 4
All-hazards preparedness funding: $25,586,974 (down 1.4%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -1.3%

Among New Jersey’s shortcomings was the fact that public health funding declined, the state was ill-equipped to staff a public health lab in an emergency and it lacked a climate change adaptation plan. New Jersey’s disaster preparedness was recently, and continues to be, tested with Superstorm Sandy. Levi, from TFAH, pointed out that New Jersey was able to handle the disaster well given the tireless efforts of state employees, medical personnel and volunteers. But TFAH noted in the report that even as the initial disaster has faded away, those affected by the storm, including many New Jersey residents, continue to face disaster risks. Some of the problems pointed out by the group include unsafe drinking water, carbon monoxide poisoning and asbestos exposure.

2. Kansas
Score: 3
All-hazards preparedness funding: $10,309,363 (up 2.8%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -6.0%

Kansas is one of just two states that met only three of the 10 TFAH standards for disaster readiness. Among the state’s shortcomings are its lack of a climate change adaptation plan, no accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program, and the fact that the state did not have staffing levels available at health labs to adequately deal with a disease outbreak. State officials in Kansas have taken issue with the state’s place in the ranking, arguing, among other things, that changes in the formula for federal funds hurt rural states such as Kansas. But while federal all-hazards preparedness funding was up, state funding actually declined by 6%.

Also Read: The States Doling Out the Best (and Worst) Benefits

1. Montana
Score: 3
All-hazards preparedness funding: $5,884,938 (down 11.9%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -21.0%

Much of Montana’s limited preparedness for public health disasters can probably be explained by a lack of funding, according to TFAH. Total all-hazards preparedness funding dropped 11.9% between 2011 and 2012, one of the largest drops of all states. To exacerbate the problem, the 21% drop in state public health was the worst of all states. Montana is among the minority of states that has not been accredited by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. In addition, only 76.8% of infants ended up getting immunized for whooping cough, lower than all but a handful of states. This is despite the fact that Montana has an incidence rate of the disease nearly four times that of the country as a whole.