Trust in Emergency Management Authorities and Individual Emergency Preparedness for Tornadoes

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The risks associated with disasters can be significantly reduced if individuals are well prepared according to the orders and recommendations of emergency management authorities such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local government. Despite this fact, there is evidence that individuals are not cooperative with these authorities and are therefore underprepared for an emergency. This article argues that individual trust in emergency management authorities may affect their cooperation with emergency preparedness recommendations. Using unique survey data, this study finds a nuanced relationship between individual emergency preparedness for tornadoes and trust in emergency management authorities. Although trust in FEMA in isolation does not explain variations in individual preparedness for tornadoes, increased preparation for a tornado is explained by trust in local government contingent upon a low baseline level of trust in FEMA. This article concludes with some practical and theoretical implications for emergency management authorities and scholars.