This site serves to report our findings from our “Blacksburg Winter Storms” survey project. The intent of this project is to gauge the general awareness and perception of the citizens of Blacksburg regarding the hazard posed by winter storms.
We designed our survey to elicit responses in various categories of interest. The survey consists of 12 primary questions and 5 demographics questions.
The survey process
The survey was conducted primarily door-to-door. The interviewer either read the questions and transcribed responses or allowed the interviewee to fill out the survey directly. In addition to the full printed version of the survey we also provided the option of online version with identical questions for people who preferred that method or did not have the time when we visited. In the field we carried both the complete printed version and a small 1/4 page flyer that contained information about the online survey. This flyer was handed to people directly or affixed to the door if no one was home when we visited
We conducted our surveys on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, intending to maximize the likelihood of finding people at home.
Survey Response Rate
We completed 42 paper surveys and 9 online, Or about 80% hardcopy, 20% digital. We printed and distributed about 40 of the flyers for the online survey, so that generated a response rate of about 20%.
Overall our response rate to in-person surveys was very good. Only a few people completely refused to participate, some preferred to take the flyer for the online survey and complete it at a later time.
About This Site
This site serves as our final report and presentation material all in one, it combines a traditional report and accompanying powerpoint-type presentation. The tabs along the top represent the various areas of interest from the survey, each tab contains a graphic generated from the questions that fall under that category. It additionally serves to demonstrate how a project like this might carried forward in the “real world”. The next step after completing this research might be to create an educational tool for the public that addresses some of the hazard awareness education needs discovered through the survey analysis process. We have included the “How to Winterize Your Home” tab to simulate this concept.
These charts illustrate our survey sample demographics results in comparison to the demographics of Blacksburg according to the 2010 census. Or survey demographics were a close approximation of actual Blacksburg demographics.
It is my great honor to have Amy and Michael with me as a good team to carry on this project! Thank you guys!
From right to left
Michael E. George
Class: Junior Honors
Major, Minor: Environmental Policy and Planning, Landscape Architecture
Amy M. Hubbard
Major, Minor: Environmental Policy and Planning, Spanish
Major: Master of Urban and Regional Planning
#12 Do you have any recommendations or complaints for local government and utilities preparedness and response to winter storms?
These are free responses to question #12: Do you have any recommendations or complaints for local government and utilities preparedness and response to winter storms?
From these responses, it appears that generally the local response is seen positively. Some of the respondents commented that the response is too fast, not allowing them to enjoy the winter weather. These responses reflect the main and true attitudes to winter storms. People don’t think it is too critical.
002: Living so close to VT, good preparedness; An alert system through text/email; road alerts
005: Very good.
006: Slow it down, too much response.
007: Too good, too responsible.
008: Good job.
011: Canceling school is too easy.
013: Late choices for kids, timing of school cancellation.
020: School cancellation; I think they do a pretty good job. Some of the streets take 1-2 days, but none of the major ones.
021: Good job.
023: Not really.
035: Anticipate winter storms and be more alert to power outage and injuries.
046: Tell the stupid people without 4wd and good driving skills to stay home the first day – they are the real problem
047: Blacksburg has very slow response time to winter storms, especially in terms of plowing the roads. I used to live in the Midwest and the Northeast and the response times were much faster there than here.
This question investigates the preferred media venue for information regarding winter storms. Of the sources in the survey, the ranking from most to least popular is as follows:
Internet>Local Television>National Television>Local Radio=Friends,relatives,coworkers etc. > Local Newspapers >Authorities
Also, we found out, people of different ages tend to have different preferences of communication venues. More senior people rely on traditional venues such as TV, Newspaper, Radio, while other people prefer the Internet and TV. TV is still one of the most popular ways to know what’s happening around especially for senior people. We did find an exception to this trend, one of these seniors that we interviewed uses twitter and smart phone to learn about road closing due to winter storms.
Generally the level of concern over winter storms in Blacksburg is relatively low.
If we were to re-do this survey we might re-word some of our questions. For example question #11: “Would you say that the intensity of winter storms has increased or decreased over the past couple of years?” Many respondents found this difficult to answer because “the past couple of years” is not specific enough and not enough time to represent a trend. “In as long as you can remember, do you think the intensity of winter-storms has increased decreased or stayed the same?” might have generated a response more fitting the intent of the question; gauging perception of a trend. This is the sort of thing we were able to learn from conducting a survey in the field rather than conceptually only.
Some of or potential interviewees were reluctant due to the number of pages of the survey. A one page, front and back format wold have been less intimidating, even with the same question list.
If this were a “real world” project, the next steps might be to complete this website as an education tool for the public and make it available through the town of Blacksburg website and other local sites.
More research could also be done to compare our results to actual winter storm data. This would help to determine more accurately the gap between public perception and actual hazard risk.