Only 6 of 75 Cities Ready for Disaster

Only six of 75 U.S. cities and surrounding areas rate top grades for their emergency agencies' ability to communicate during a disaster, according to a federal report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

A draft portion of the report, to be released Wednesday, gives the highest ratings to Washington, San Diego, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Columbus, Ohio; Sioux Falls, S.D., and Laramie County, Wyoming.

The lowest scores went to Chicago; Cleveland, Baton Rouge, La.; Mandan, N.D., and American Samoa.

In the study, communities were judged in three categories: operating procedures in place, use of communications systems and how effectively local governments have coordinated in preparation for a disaster.

Most of the areas surveyed included cities and their surrounding communities, based on the assumption that in a major crisis emergency personnel from all local jurisdictions would respond.

The areas with the six best scores were judged "advanced" in all three categories. The cities with the lowest grades had reached the early implementation stage for only one category.

Chicago, Cleveland and Baton Rouge, for example, were judged to have accomplished the early stage of governance coordination. Mandan, N.D., and the territory of American Samoa were both found to have gotten to the early stage of their actual usage of interoperable emergency communications.

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