Date of this Version
Nebraska Rural Poll Research Report 20-1, July 2020.
In March 2019, a bomb cyclone produced a historic blizzard as well as flooding that impacted many counties in Nebraska. Given that, did rural Nebraskans experience extreme weather events or natural disasters in 2019? To what extent were they harmed by these weather events? What personal impacts did they experience? How concerned are they about weather events? This paper provides a detailed analysis of these questions. This report details 1,979 responses to the 2020 Nebraska Rural Poll, the 25th annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about weather events. Comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:
• Most rural Nebraskans say their household experienced extreme high winds and many experienced an extreme rainstorm and an extreme snow/ice/winter storm in 2019. Similar proportions reported that their community also experienced these weather events. However, rural Nebraskans are more likely to say their community had a flood than their household (53% compared to 32%).
• While just over one-quarter of rural Nebraskans say their household was harmed a moderate amount or a great deal, over one-half say their community was harmed at least a moderate amount. Twenty-six percent of rural Nebraskans say their household was harmed either a moderate amount or a great deal by extreme weather events, while 57 percent report their community was harmed. And, most rural Nebraskans say their extended family and friends outside their community but living in Nebraska were both impacted by extreme weather or natural disasters at least a moderate amount.
• At least three in ten rural Nebraskans reported minor or major impacts in the following areas: having to drive extra miles for shopping, damage to their house and increased levels of anxiety and stress. Just under one-half of rural Nebraskans experienced increased levels of anxiety and stress as a result of the extreme weather events in 2019. Just over three in ten had to drive extra miles for shopping or received damage to their home. Over two in ten had to drive extra miles to get to work, drove extra for health care services and had reduced household earnings or income.
• Almost three in ten rural Nebraskans are concerned or very concerned about more frequent extreme rainfall events and flooding, disruptive weather patterns impacting human health and wellbeing, and changing seasonal and weather patterns. Just over one-quarter are concerned about more extreme winter temperatures and just under one-quarter are concerned about more extreme summer temperatures. Just over two in ten are concerned about more severe droughts or longer dry periods.