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The Impact of Superstorm Sandy on Residents Age 50+ in Rhode Island

AARP commissioned a survey of Rhode Island residents ages 50 and older living in areas most heavily affected by Superstorm Sandy to gather insights on how these residents were impacted by the storm. The survey explores residents’ opinions of how well the government and service providers responded to the storm, the extent of impact caused by power outages, as well as what information might have been useful for them to have right after the storm.

Key findings included:

  • Overall, the majority of residents surveyed rated service providers and elected officials positively in their response to the storm. Electric utilities received the lowest ratings, however, with about one-quarter of respondents saying they did a poor to fair job in the days and weeks following Sandy.
  • Most respondents (84%) lost power as a result of Sandy, with more than half (55%) of these residents being without power for at least three days. About seven percent of respondents report the loss of power complicated health issues, with most of these individuals experiencing interferences with their medical equipment (76%), and many others having issues with monitoring systems (36%) and prescription drug storage (26%) due to the power outage. Those with disabilities were more than twice as likely (17%) to report having health-related complications due to the power outage.
  • Having important phone numbers for emergency assistance (50%) tops the list of information respondents say would have been helpful to have after the storm, followed by tips on how to avoid crime and scams, such as identity theft and price gouging (39%) and information about where to make claims for property losses (38%).

This telephone survey of Rhode Island residents ages 50+ was fielded December 19 to December 27, 2012. A total of 800 interviews were completed in the towns of Westerly, Narragansett, South Kingstown, Charlestown, Jamestown, Middletown, Little Compton, and Newport. For more information, please contact Kate Bridges at 202-434-6329.

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