The 15 Worst States for Emergency Preparedness

The quality of your state’s emergency preparedness efforts could mean the difference between successfully weathering the storm or becoming a storm victim. We took a look at research conducted by WalletHub to analyze the states that are least prepared when it comes to an emergency. WalletHub’s research was based on factors, such as road safety, road quality, and the total amount of money lost due to damage from climate disasters. Here are the 15 worst states for emergency preparedness, according to WalletHub.

15. South Carolina

Flooded South Carolina

Its road system is lacking. | Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 36

South Carolina (No. 13 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) loses points when it comes to road quality. The state received a score of 14 (out of a possible 100) for its roads. In addition, South Carolina is not adequately prepared for a major fire event. There are only four active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Furthermore, the state scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $5,041 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

14. North Carolina

An SUV Drives by a sign that states "Evacuation Route"

It doesn’t have many firefighters. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 37

North Carolina (No. 6 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) received a score of 12 for road quality. In addition, the state does not have adequate manpower if it were faced with a major fire event. There are only four active firefighters per 1,000 residents. North Carolina also scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. During the past decade, the state lost roughly $4,184 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

13. North Dakota

An oil drilling rig is seen in an aerial view in the early morning hours of July 30, 2013 near Bismarck, North Dakota. The state has seen a boom in oil production thanks to new drilling techniques including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

It has poor road quality. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 38

If you need to get out of North Dakota in a hurry, you might have some issues. The state received a score of 10 for road quality. Compared to the other states on this list, North Dakota does a lot better when it comes to manpower if it were faced with a major fire event. There are 12 active firefighters per 1,000 residents. North Dakota scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. During the past decade, the state lost roughly $29,286 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

12. Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The state has faced many disasters over the years. | iStock.com/tomofbluesprings

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 39

Missouri (No. 9 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) received a score of 24 for road quality. In addition, the state is pretty lean when it comes to its fire department. There are just four active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Furthermore, Missouri scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $5,483 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

11. South Dakota

sign board saying ' South Dakota'

It has poor road quality. | iStock.com/wellesenterprises

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 40

South Dakota received a score of 11 for road quality. In addition, the state could use a little help when it comes to fighting fires. There are just nine active firefighters per 1,000 residents. South Dakota also scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $12,947 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

10. Montana

Montana, USA

Poor road quality won Montana its spot. | iStock.com/PStieger

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 41

Montana received a score of just 9 for road quality. In addition, the state is lacking manpower when it comes to fighting fires. There are six active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Montana scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. With the past decade, the state lost roughly $9,921 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

9. Nebraska

'Welcome to Nebraska' sign board on a empty road

Nebraska only scored a 5 for road quality. | iStock.com

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 42

Nebraska’s roads aren’t the best. The state received a score of 5 for road quality. In addition, the state doesn’t have adequate manpower if it was faced with a major fire event. There are only six active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Nebraska also scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $8,834 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

8. Florida

Amelia Park, Hialeah, Florida

The Sunshine State has a low ratio of firefighters per resident. | iStock.com/LuisFidelAyerves

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 43

Florida received a score of 9 for road quality. In addition, the state has a pretty small group of firefighters available to help out during a major fire event. There are just two active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Florida also scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $7,629 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

7. Alabama

Welcome to Alabama road sign on US-84 near Gordon

It lost $6,176 per capita from climate disasters in the past decade. | iStock.com/miroslav_1

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 44

Alabama (No. 5 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) received a score of 11 for road quality. Similar to the states on this list, there aren’t many firefighters to go around.  There are just four active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Alabama also scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $6,176 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

6. Oklahoma

Oklahoma City area on a map

Its roads are better than others on this list, but it has had many climate disasters. | iStock.com/Manakin

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 45

Oklahoma (No. 2 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) received a score of 30 for road quality. Although this score isn’t great, it’s the highest of all the other states on this list. In addition, the state has just four active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Oklahoma scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $6,924 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

5. Kansas

Kansas faces severe drought

Kansas has struggled with droughts. | John Moore/Getty Images

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 46

Kansas (No. 11 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) received a score of 13 for road quality. In addition, there are just five active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Kansas scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $7,854 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

4. Texas

Hurricane Harvey Slams Into Texas Gulf Coast

Texas is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 47

Texas (No. 1 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) received a score of 18 for road quality. In addition, the state is severely understaffed in the event of a major fire situation. There are only two active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Texas scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $4,721 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more. However, that number could significantly increase once the final numbers from Hurricane Harvey are calculated.

3. Iowa

Iowa has poor road quality. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 48

Iowa received a score of 19 for road quality. In addition, the state faces challenges when it comes to fire department staff. There are only six active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Iowa scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $10,058 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

2. Louisiana

Rain from Harvey Hits New Orleans

Louisiana has seen severe damage from hurricanes over the years. | Shawn Fink/AFP/Getty Images

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 49

Considering the devastating results and poor emergency response seen during Hurricane Katrina, it’s no surprise that Louisiana made the list. Hurricane Katrina resulted in roughly 1,833 deaths, and total damage was $160 billion. Poor road quality contributes to the state’s lack of preparation. The state received a score of 24 for its roads. In addition, Louisiana is not adequately prepared for a major fire event. There are only four active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Furthermore, the state scores high when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $35,653 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

1. Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

It’s the least prepared of the 50 states. | iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto

Emergency preparedness rank (scale of 1 to 50; 1 = best): 50

Mississippi (No. 8 on our list of worst states for natural disasters) is the worst when it comes to emergency preparedness. The state received a score of 26 for its roads. In addition, Mississippi is not adequately prepared for a major fire event. There are only four active firefighters per 1,000 residents. Furthermore, the state scores among the worst when it comes to total losses from climate disasters. Within the past decade, the state lost roughly $20,630 per capita from climate disasters resulting in damage of $1 billion or more.

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