Objectives: This article describes how the frequency of exposure to a flood is associated with the probability of seeking help from agencies (eg, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross) that provide disaster-related services. The article also describes the population characteristics for the people who are most likely to seek help for disaster services.
Methods: Prospective cohort data from 1735 respondents of the Iowa Health Poll were used. Multivariate logistic regression was used to model the odds of seeking help from any agency for flood-related problems.
Results: Overall, most people, regardless of flood exposure, did not seek help from disaster service agencies. Disaster services were sought by 23% of respondents who experienced 1 flood, 31% who have experienced 2 floods, and 26% who have experienced 3 or more floods. Multivariate adjusted odds of seeking help were associated with number of flood experiences (odds ratio [OR] 1.58), white race (OR 0.24), economic hardship (OR 1.43), urban residence (OR 0.43), and social support (OR 0.55).
Conclusions: On average, the probability of seeking disaster relief services increases with the number of flood experiences. Racial/ethnic minorities, rural residents, economically challenged individuals, and people with low levels of perceived social support may be more likely than people without these characteristics to seek services. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2008;2:139–141)